Friday, November 4, 2011

Give Blood. Or I'll Just Take It.

Every year, starting in early September, I hear the same question over and over and over again: “Mom, what are you going to be for Halloween this year?” This question is usually followed by the admonition, “PLEASE don’t wait until the last minute and throw on that stupid witch costume again.”

Halloween is my daughter’s favorite “holiday,” and I don’t have the heart to tell her it’s not really a holiday.  Every year since Clare was 4 years old, we’ve hosted a wild Halloween dance party (as wild as 60 kids and their parents can get), at which costumes are mandatory regardless of age. Parents like to gripe about this facet of our shindig, yet once ensconced in their alter egos, most of the adult attendees have a rip-roarin’ good time unleashing their inner children – and those who don’t aren’t invited back.

Once again, this year I found myself too busy to think about my costume and no clever ideas were popping into my head. Two days before the party, I was still leaning toward blowing the cobwebs off “that stupid witch costume” when Clare asked if we could go to the giant Halloween store.  

Opening in a different retail space each year for one month only, this year’s location happened to be right next to the local Bonfils Blood Center. We had just had our first snow of the season and some of the Bonfils blood collection staff had built a little snowman – complete with a Bonfils hat – right by the entrance to the Halloween store.

And just like that I knew what I was going to be for Halloween: a Blood Donation Advocate.  

Not the kind of blood donation advocate I've spent the last decade being.  Not the kind that flies around giving talks, emceeing events, and participating in media interviews.  No, this blood donation advocate would take an entirely different approach to ensuring that people "gave blood."

Two days later I donned my costume, splashing fake blood all over myself, a pair of hospital scrubs, and one of the myriad “Give Blood” t-shirts I’d acquired over the years. After topping off my outfit with a few fake bloody knives, I laughed myself silly at the absurdity of how I looked. 

And then I thought about the number of times I had counseled other newer blood donation advocates, their auras just oozing with the desire to help. I remembered when Marianne, a heart transplant patient turned blood and organ donation advocate, called me almost in tears over the apparent indifference she was encountering as she set out to convince others to care about the cause. 

“What is wrong with these people?” she lamented to me. “Don’t they get it? I want to slap some of them – or just tie them down and take the blood from them!” I remembered how I’d told her to let it go, that we could only lead a horse to water, but we couldn’t make him, well, give blood

“Listen,” I’d said to Marianne, “We can’t force people to care.  Some will and some won’t. We can only share our stories, straight from the heart, and hope they resonate with enough people that the blood centers get the donors they need coming through their doors.”

And yet for one night, I got to play with the idea of being a different sort of blood donation advocate – the kind that just goes out there and takes what’s needed. Fun – not to mention tasteless – as it was, when my midnight shower washed off the last of the fake blood, I was back to a more subtle form of advocacy: Sharing stories of despair and hope. Touching hearts to inspire action.

Give blood. 

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Lauren's book, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances (In The Telling Press, 2011), is the #1 Top Rated memoir on Kindle. Hardcover copies are available at, or signed copies can be ordered at Happy Reading!


  1. Love it. Maybe we really just should take it. I mean come on - you can't use ALL that blood all by yourself right?!?!?

  2. Glad to know I'm not the only sick mind out there!

  3. My kind of recruiter! My favorite recruitment event was at "Scare Delaware" and I recruited the folks in line for the haunted house...dressed as a seriously creepy vampire, custom fangs and theatrical blood. My tag line was "We can either do this the easy way or the hard way ! " I think you should include this pic in an upcoming ABC newsletter...please oh please!