But I also happen to be cytomegalovirus negative, which means I am one of an elite few (less than 1 in 100) who can donate to newborns. I found the following quotation attributed to Wikipedia (although I can't currently find it on the site itself):
"A tiny percentage of adults may donate blood to small children in emergency rooms, newborn babies, and fetuses. To ensure the safety of blood transfusion to pediatric patients, including those in whom the immune systems are not fully developed, hospitals are taking every precaution to avoid infection and prefer to use specially tested pediatric blood units that are guaranteed negative for cytomegalovirus (CMV), because the consequences of CMV infection for newborns or low weight infants may be severe or even fatal.
Additionally, for pediatric patients with certain disorders or in emergency, when there is no time to perform crossmatching, only O/Rh negative blood can be used for neonatal transfusion. Due to these specific restrictions, to be recognized as a baby donor an adult must test negative for cytomegalovirus, and some blood collection agencies such as the Red Cross also require baby donors that they be blood type O-negative.
Since only 7% of US adults are O-negative and as few as 15% of adults do not carry CMV, only 1% of adults* may qualify as baby donors. Other restrictions (body weight, HIV status, vCJD, etc.) reduce the fraction of potential baby donors to less than 1 in 200. If an adult was not exposed to measles, mumps, rubella, or chicken pox, that amplifies the person’s status as a baby donor."
So once they ran the tests and discovered I was part of this group, I started getting phone calls every 56 days (the minimum time between donations) from the Red Cross saying how much they missed me.
I have tried even more so to give blood regularly since learning it's even more precious than I thought it was. I just got a nifty little pin in the mail commemorating that I have now donated two gallons (wow).
I started regularly giving blood when I worked in Fremont and a co-worker dragged me along. If you haven't ever tried donating or haven't done so for a while, consider doing so and bring a friend or co-worker! I'm amazed how lonely the blood donation centers often are.
One trick I've learned is to be sure to drink a lot of liquids in the half-day before donating. It makes a huge difference in my donation time.