I’ve been donating blood since I was in high school. My dad is a long-time blood donor, so I started giving because he did. Turns out he donates because his dad, my Grandpa Bill, was a long-time blood donor.
In my early 20s I set a goal to donate the largest feasible volume that was meaningful to me as a homebrewer: a keg. A standard half-barrel keg is half of a barrel (31 gallons), so 15.5 gallons or 124 pints of beer. Or blood.
I donated blood yesterday and checked my stats: 53 units with the Red Cross, plus 10 that I donated with LifeSource during the periods I lived in Chicago. That puts me one unit into the second half of my keg.
Donating every 56 days – as frequently as possible – would be 6.5 times per year. Allowing for illness and finding convenient blood drives, it seems more reasonable to shoot for 4 times per year (I’ve averaged about 3.5 units/year since I turned 18). If I can keep that up, I’ll finish in about 16 years, when I’m 51.
Maybe then I’ll switch to donating platelets. My searches for record-setting blood donors turn up platelet donors. Platelets can be given more frequently (24x/year), requiring more time, putting up bigger numbers, and having a greater impact on people in need. Maxing out platelet donations seems like the big leagues. I won’t have little kids then; perhaps that will be my second act? My dad has given platelets so I’d be following in his path again.
16 years is a long time. I hope my health will hold up well enough to keep the streak alive. We’ll see if this blog post is still up in 2036 or whenever I fill the keg.