"YOUR BLOOD WILL SAVE A LIFE! So do not miss your appointment - April 14, 1942 - 11:15 A.M." Thus read the little post card with the emblem of the Red Cross above its message. The first sentence and part of the second are written in red - the color of the precious blood that our boys are shedding on those lonely outposts of civilization - so far from home. The message of the Red Cross takes on a vital meaning as I listen just now to the U.S. Marine band playing "Stars and Stripes Forever" in a program called "The Spirit of '42" - and Kate Smith has lifted her golden voice in a song and a prayer - "for the day when the seas will be swept clean.. and our boys will be coming home again." I thought of Gertrude Portser Ford, and wondered if somewhere today she is sending out a song to the glory of God and country. Would that Longfellow were living now! To write his impressions of the magic of radio! "I breathed a song into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where... " Kate Smith's songs have just now gone forth on magic wings - to reach every American boy, on battleship or in camp - no matter how far away - to make him feel that the arms of faith are holding him up, and that he's not so terribly far from home, so long as he has a radio. To come back to the Red Cross post card, let's read the very practical instructions this "angel of mercy" sends out:
TO BE ACCEPTED - Three weeks must elapse after a cold. Persons must not have history of tuberculosis, peptic ulcer, or other chronic illnesses. The presence of fat in your blood prevents its drying. Omitting breakfast or lunch, altogether, is bad for Donor. Only the following food is alloyed 4 hours prior to appointments. Fruits or fruit juices. Tea or coffee (without cream). Dry toast. Raw vegetables (without dressing or butter). No avocadoes.
The Blood Donor Service was established here in December (unless my memory tricks me). The U.S. Army and Navy have placed with the American Red Cross a request for 200,000 voluntary blood donations to meet the urgent needs of war. This blood, after conversion into dry plasma, is to be used for treatment of shock and loss of blood associated with war wounds and burns. What's blood plasma? It is the clear liquid portion of the blood after the removal of the red and white corpuscles. Experience has proved that for most purposes this plasma is as effective in blood transfusions as is whole blood. It has the advantage of not needing to be typed; it will require refrigeration. Mixed with distilled water, the plasma can be administered on the battlefield, aboard ships, on streets following an air raid or disaster. I called the Red Cross just now - to see how many donations of blood had been given in Cleveland since this service opened here. Sunday is not a good day to secure information; but this kind young lady said that a month ago there were 5,000. Persons between the ages of 18 and 60 are accepted. My brother-in-law, Clarence Summers, volunteered at once. But, because of limited facilities, he was not called for a month. In the meantime he acquired a good, old-fashioned cold, to be followed by other illnesses. Anticipating the month's wait I called as soon as I felt strong enough. But I had to wait nearly six weeks. Now the Donor Service is so well organized - with many mobile units - that they can take you almost at once.
I was afraid to tell Virgil until it was all over - for I knew he would be anxious, remembering that, on the fateful day when the treacherous Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, he and thee others had to come to the hospital to be typed, ready to give me a blood transfusion - which was not needed. You may wonder why I spoke so lovingly of Virgil's niece, Gladys, at the time of her engagement. That girl, who fainted once before, at the sight of a hypodermic injection, volunteered her blood, if needed, and again fainted as she was being typed. Do you wonder that I love her? Although I had to be quite secretive about it, I knew in my own heart that it is alright - for the Red Cross won't take you unless your blood pressure is good and your hemoglobin (or red corpuscle content) is high. Mine is 85%. There is a steady stream of donors coming in. A charming receptionist takes down your health history, age, etc. A registered nurse takes your blood test, pressure, etc. and asks you if you ever had malaria, or T.B. ,or any serious illness. Smiling staff assistants in yellow gowns and caps with traditional veil are busy as bees, one helping you into a clean but unironed gown, another escorting you into the room where there are five "operating" tables, with four occupied. A beautiful, immaculate nurse bids you lie down, and she swabs your arm with two or three antiseptics "just like getting ready for an appendectomy," she said. You lie there and wait for the doctor to come in and insert the needle - and you watch the other donors. The man next to me gets up, as good as new, and makes room for a plump young woman. But the man across the way looks white around the gills; the nurses are keeping an eye on him. But he's all right; he makes way for a sprightly, gray-haired little woman, who certainly looks her age limit. But is she game! I asked questions whenever I could grab a nurse or assistant. "How long does it take to give a pint of blood?" "About five minutes." "Is it like an intravenous injection?" "Yes, only the needle is larger." That was my only scare - for the intravenous is plenty large, thank you.
But here comes the quiet doctor, and, before you have time to work up a case of jitters, he gives you a shot of novocaine, which takes away practically all the pain of the "big needle." Now comes the pretty nurse, to open up the valve and apply a rubber tourniquet above the elbow; she places a soft roll of material in your hand, and tells you to close your hand slowly, squeeze, open slowly, close - repeat rhythmically - and thus you do your own pumping. That young man - just 21 - who came in after me, is getting all the attention. His nurse talks to him the whole time. He is tall and handsome; I am jealous. But, as we were escorted out into the cheery refreshment room, and the young man and I had just ordered our choice of beverage (coffee, tea or milk) and of sandwich (meat or egg salad), he turned deathly white. Two staff assistants hurried to his side, and started to help him to an adjoining room and a bed, when he sagged right down - to the floor - in a dead faint. Well, they soon brought him out of it, and put him to bed. "What made him faint?" was my anxious query. "He was scared; and the reaction was purely psychological." That was why the nurse talked to him so much; she read the signs.
The column is much too long already - so I must close - with this brief testimony; The donation did not weaken me - not for one moment. I actually feel better than ever. So - if the Red Cross donor service comes your way - and you are well - GIVE YOUR BLOOD - MAY SAVE A LIFE.
Yours for victory,
Florence B. Taylor.
Next - 5/7/42 - Priorities
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