Julie G. • Bedford, TX

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I am a donor because...

I give blood - again - because I can. In 2005 I discovered a mole that turned out to be melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer that kills approximately 8000 Americans each year. One gigantic incision 16 stitches and a chest X-ray later I agreed to make some necessary changes which included year-round SPF 30 and routine mole checks. The real scare came when a blood center medical director explained to me that because of the melanoma I was now permanently (forever and ever) deferred from giving blood. Hearing phrases like invasive spread and assumed systemic cancer cells did little for my peace of mind. And to add insult to injury I was being told my blood donating days were over - for good. But last August I received some unexpected good news along with hundreds of other cancer survivors. My blood center was changing its blood donor eligibility guidelines specifically those related to solid tumor cancers and yes - melanoma. Those with solid tumor cancers including breast cancer would be eligible to give blood only two years after treatment rather than the current five- year deferral. And melanoma would no longer land a would-be donor on the permanently deferred list.

But before I could be considered eligible again I was asked to call my blood center's Donor Notification Department to begin re-entry into the donor pool. Two weeks later a letter in the mail confirmed it; I was ready to give blood again. It seems we don't fully appreciate an opportunity until it's taken away; like giving blood. I was happy to do it - and thrilled about the impact. And although I can fully appreciate guidelines put in place to protect donor and patient safety not being allowed to give blood because of a pesky disease was a hard pill to swallow. But now I have that opportunity back - and I will take it with a new enthusiasm and appreciation for the privilege of calling myself a blood donor - again.

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