I donated blood for the 8th time on the 4th of July...that means I've given away one gallon of blood. The motivation behind giving for the very first time in late 2004 was to have a new life experience. The second time I tried to give blood was in early 2006 and it took me a lot of time to work up the nerve...then I found out that I was ineligible because I had been in Ecuador. It was many years later in 2010 before I actually donated for the second time. Erin went with me and we donated together. Part of the motivation for the second time was to get over my fear/big dislike of needles. I think that I have gradually gotten better. In fact, my pulse rate on Wednesday was 78 bpm. I would feel accomplished if I could have my pulse in the low 60s when I'm about to donate blood.
It's pretty neat that my body makes stuff that's useful and highly valuable for other people. The free market definitely provides too little blood because donors aren't allowed to be paid (I guess gift cards & t-shirts don't count). Some evidence of this shortage is that I got a phone call asking me to donate near the 4th of July. In a free market, the price paid to donors would rise close to that time and it would attract people. Since the blood bank can't pay people directly, it was running promotions with a higher frequency than normal...they were giving away ice cream and hot dogs one day and a gas card a few days later. I imagine that the impetus to donate is intrinsic for most donors, but I personally like to get some sort of compensation...especially because it will cost me my time and gas to get over there. I would certainly donate way more often if I got $100 per donation. That being said, I'm not about to start selling my plasma.
Getting blood from my body to that of a patient is an expensive process, I'm sure. The blood bank has to operate donation centers including brick-n-mortar locations and mobile units, it has to pay its staff and have the sterile needles/bags to collect the blood, the tracking system to keep track of what blood is in the bag has to be expensive, the blood has to get tested before anyone gets it, it has to stay refrigerated until someone gets it...so adding a bit of a boost for donors would have a small percentage increase on the cost, especially the post-transfusion price after paying for the hospital and the doctors.
I saw a sign in my grandmother's house saying that she had donated 34 times. That's not a bad lifetime goal. Maybe I can match her one day.