After writing an article this week about the shortage of blood donors in Texoma, I started thinking about some of my own donation experiences over the years.

To my knowledge, the earliest age a donor can give blood is about 17 years old — a time when most of us are attending high school. I recall blood drives being open my junior and senior years, and for many students, myself included, it was an easy way to get out of class for a while. I never had a problem with needles, but being the socially anxious teenager that I was, I did have a problem without passing out in front of all my classmates.

I tried not to let that dissuade me from giving, but when I saw one of the larger football players faint and the brief commotion that caused, I backed out. All these years later I still regret it, especially now, since I know that high school blood drives are a main source of donations for blood banks.

When college rolled around, I finally made it back in the chair with plasma “donations” and I have to use that term loosely because I was rewarded for my contributions with pre-paid debit cards. The amount collected varied by my weight and so too did the beer money I derived from each session. So to get around the limitations, I often wore heavier clothes and placed a full water bottle on the weigh-in scale, just out of sight from the technicians. But the universe taught me a lesson about giving too much when I tried to ride my bike back from the collection center on a hot summer day. I went pale and passed out in someone’s front yard. It was not my finest hour.

Since then, I’ve given blood several times and while I’m proud of those experiences. I’ve met people who’ve given far more regularly and generously. It really puts you in your place when you hear an 85-year-old man gives blood as often as he’s allowed and another woman, donating on her lunch break, has just surpassed the 60-gallon mark.

While I wrote this particular column in the hopes of generating a few laughs at my own expense, the topic of blood donation is a serious one. Texoma is critically low on blood and emergencies of all sizes can unfold within a matter of seconds. You might be embarrassed to admit that you’re afraid of needles, and yeah you might pass out afterward, but those are just temporary inconveniences. One unit of your blood and 30 minutes of your day could help save as many as three lives. Don’t let the fear or the urge to procrastinate win. Go donate..

Happy birthday to Jamie Parker, Elmer Roberson and Jerell Wright, all from Sherman; Anjie Quick of Jacksonville, Florida; Easton Ross of Howe;