I should be considered a superhero. No, seriously. I am not even being arrogant when I say that.
At nearly 19 years old I realized I give a lot of myself for the benefit of those who need things more than I do. This all started March 2009, during my senior year of high school.
As most other high schools, my school’s Associated Student Body would hold about three blood drives for LifeStream each school year. Being terrified of needles at the time, I passed up the opportunity and usually pretended to not know the drives were happening.
But something pushed me, probably my “gung-ho” friend Stephanie, to just do it this one time.
After being asked questions about my health history and sexual life, which we all know is nonexistent, I was led over to a bed to lie on.
With my heart racing and my breathing heavy, the phlebotomist cleaned my arm with iodine and plunged the needle into my vein.
After my veins had released a pint of blood, the only thing that was painful in the entire process was when they pricked my finger to test my iron levels.
About a month later, I received my LifeStream identification card telling me I was an O-positive blood type.
Remembering biology classes, I realized my blood was universal and therefore could be given to anyone in need of blood. Because of this, 56 days after my initial donation, LifeStream called me to make a donation appointment.
Ever since then, I have faithfully given a pint of my blood every 56 days. At my next donation a month from now, I will hit the one-gallon mark.
After conquering my fear of needles, I started thinking about what else I had extra of to give to others. I am a healthy, young person so my body is ideal for donations to sick patients. I went online and began researching.
Since I got my license at 16, the organ donor sticker was not an option, so immediately I went to donatelifecalifornia.org and registered for my vital, working organs to be donated upon my death.
My godfather was recently diagnosed with cancer so I began researching ways I could help cancer patients.
While online, I came across the National Marrow Donor Program, an organization that saves patients’ lives by acquiring donations of bone marrow nationwide.
Since I am young and healthy, the procedure is simple and requires little energy. The patient receiving my marrow, if it is found I am a match, has a better chance of survival.
So, I registered and they sent me a do-it-yourself kit where I swabbed the inside of my cheeks and sent my cells in to be put in the bank.
For the past three years, I have had long hair. Most people who consider donating their hair tend to lean towards Wigs for Kids and Locks of Love. However neither foundation guarantees your hair will be used and the minimum length requirement is nearly a foot.
In the recent heat, I could not stand waiting for my hair to grow longer, so I looked for other options. I discovered Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a group that takes donations of hair from eight inches and up and creates a free wig for a woman with cancer.
On Oct. 1, I went to my hair stylist, she tied my hair into a ponytail and chopped nine inches off. Although I was nervous, I do not mind my hair and my nine inches went to a woman who cannot grow it naturally like I can.
Donating blood, marrow or hair does not change me; if anything it makes me look different temporarily. But it makes you feel like you did something special for a stranger and I do not know about you, but that feels amazing. One small act can literally change another person’s life.
See that mugshot next to my name? It does not match my hairstyle anymore. But that person in the photo? She is still here, through and through.
Kristen Campbell, a sophomore journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.