My church, St. Luke's, had a blood drive on Saturday the twenty-sixth. Since I have wanted to give blood ever since college, I decided that this time I would actually do it. I put my name on the sign up sheet and asked my sister what it would be like. She told me that it would take around an hour.
I arrived a little after eight AM and was greeted by a fellow church member. She told the person who was checking people in that I was there and gave him my name. The man was talking to two people at a table with a lap top computer in front of him. Off to the side of him was another computer and some dark blue walled cubicles. When it was my turn, I could see that he was an older aged man with a white lab coat. He directed me to the computer beside him to read and answer a series of questions. This surprised me because my sister had said that I would get a large packet of papers to go through. The computer questions were easy to follow and provided me with a list of medications that would defer a person's blood donation. Here is that list. (I had thought I may not be allowed to give because I am on anti-depressants. So I was surprised by how short the list was.) There was some other questions to help make sure that giving blood wouldn't cause the donor any problems.
Then I went to another cubicle and had one of my fingers pricked to test to see how much Iron I had in my blood. They check this to make sure that it is safe for the donor to give blood. If the person's iron is low, they will be ask to try again at a later date. Then it was time to give the blood. The man started gathering all of the equipment that he will need. He had a collection of medical bags. I thought "Will I have to fill all of that with my blood?" He explained that I would only fill one. The others were for seperating the donation into its component parts. That made me feel less freaked out.
He led me to the section of the cubicles that had the plastic beds for laying down while giving blood. I was very nervous as a lady prepared the tubing by taping it to my lower arm to keep it in place. I watched every move that she made. She told me to look away when she pricked me but I have always wanted to watch all medical procedures. (I wanted to become a doctor at one time until I discovered that I can't function under high stress.) Just writing about this has caused my heart rate to increase a little. It took about fifteen minutes for me to fill the bag but it felt longer to me. Afterwards, I was really dizzy. So, she had me keep laying with my feet probed up to give me time to recover. I suspect I was dizzy because of the reduction in blood volume, the side effects of my anti-depressant and nerves. I tend to hyperventilate whenever I am nervous. (I remember one time that I probably looked drunk as I walked down the side walk because I had just finished leading a group therapy session as part of my practicum in addiction counseling.) I will donate blood again. Hopefully, I will get to the point that I can give without hyperventilating like I did this time.
According to the Blood center of Wisconsin's website, a single whole blood donation can save up to three lives! If you want to give blood, you can do so at the Blood center of Wisconsin or the Red Cross . Please help others by giving blood so that it will be there when they need it.