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Giving blood is not one of my very favorite activities, but I don’t particularly mind it.  Most of the times I’ve had blood drawn it’s been for selfish health purposes, checking the levels of this and that, but recently I’ve also donated to a few genetic studies. As someone who wants to go into statistical genetics research, I know how important it is to have astronomical sample sizes, so I make an effort to participate, especially if I’m part of a relevant population.

One of the most interesting things about being involved in health research studies is that you become painfully aware of why it takes so, SO long to gather enough data. For the last study I was part of, I received a kit in the mail, complete with its own blood collection tubes and incredibly detailed instructions, in addition to all the standard questionnaires. If I wasn’t familiar with the healthcare system (or stubbornly determined to contribute), I’m not sure I would have made the visits or phone calls to figure out which labs were willing to draw blood for private research studies that weren’t associated with UM. Once you go in and explain everything to the phlebotomists, they’re of course happy to help, just still a little confused that they don’t need to put your visit into the computer system and that your name doesn’t appear on the collection tubes (only your anonymous study subject ID#).

There is something unexpectedly satisfying about walking out of the lab with your blood samples under your arm — packed in the protective Styrofoam and cardboard boxes — and heading straight to the nearest UPS to mail them off yourself.