I was a kid who dreaded doctor appointments, who would go into the exam room literally shaking, the last kid anyone would have expected to grow up and become a bone marrow or stem cell donor. Whenever I needed blood work or an injection, they would have to enlist extra nurses to hold down my arms, because I couldn’t be trusted not to fight back. My mom used to joke with the doctor that I really made her earn her salary. Worse, Mom used to tease me that if she ever got remarried, she was going to marry a phlebotomist.
Fast forward to 2009. I had just started college, and there was a blood drive on campus. It seemed like all my friends were participating, but I was still terrified of needles and couldn’t see myself volunteering to get stuck with one. Flyers for the blood drive were all over campus, though, and I started to feel guilty. I knew that there was a worldwide shortage of blood and that, because I was young and healthy, I was an ideal donor. I decided it was time to get over this “baby stuff.” As it turned out, that was easier said than done.