Donating Blood: That Felt Good

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Hats off to the people at the local Canadian Blood Services in Calgary – Ashley and I went down there this past Saturday to be first-time blood donors, and it was a really great experience. Donating blood is something I’ve “wanted” to do for years. I put wanted in quotes because it seems for most people, and I’m sadly often in this group, they’ll “want” to do things but always find excuses to not do it. Every year I get old I try to push myself to higher levels of integrity – where when I say I’m going to do something, I do it.

This time around I had a one-two punch to the jaw: last week my friend Crystal (she’s the one I’ve been taking a lot of pictures for lately) went into the hospital with an extremely low hemoglobin count. She needed an immediate blood transfusion – it saved her life. That was punch number one. A day later, I received an email from Canadian Blood Services (using an email address I used for a one-time online contest) saying that they were in desperate need of blood donors – they had only a three-day supply of blood available. Punch number two. Some days I’m a bit slow, but I’m not that dense, so I told Ashley we should really get down there and donate blood.

We went in on Saturday at noon, and it was a great experience – yes, even though we got poked in the arm with a needle. The process was fairly quick – the worst part was the paperwork…well, that and the finger-pick to test my blood for iron levels. That little clicker thing hurt more than the horse-needle they put in my arm! After answering the questions about where I’ve been in the past three years, and the ones that might make some people blush (“Have you ever been paid money or drugs for sex?”) and them checking my arms for needle tracks, it was off to the comfy chairs. Ashley and I brought paperback books because we thought the drawing blood process took 30 minutes – it didn’t. The very skilled nurse put the needle in my arm with almost no pain, and my heart slammed out 0.5 litres (1 pint) of the red juicy stuff in 6 minutes 8 seconds. Ashley took a bit over 8 minutes – apparently women are typically slower. Maybe men were made to bleed faster because we’re the ones usually starting the wars.

After the donation I spent a few minutes sipping Apple juice and eating cookies, then we left. We’ve already booked our appointment for October – you can only donate every 56 days – and we both felt great about having donated blood. My only regret? That it took me this long to get around to doing it. If you can donate blood, you should – they need it. Besides, what else are you going to do with it?

  • chrisgohlke

    Good for you Jason. I’ve been doing this since college and go pretty regularly. Of course it is really helpful that the bloodmobile comes to our office every 6 weeks and we get to do it during work time. I have not checked in a while, but I think I’m at around 5 gallons. Kind of neat to think that I’ve donate my entire body’s volume of blood many times over.

  • Wow, that’s awesome Chris! Great work – doing it during work time is indeed a nice thing…

  • You can only donate every 16 weeks in the UK. However, they take platelets out of me at the same time as a blood bag, so I at least get marked down as a double donation which helps move through the reward cards. šŸ™‚

  • Reward cards? What do they give you?

  • chrisgohlke

    Kudos for doing the platelet apheresis thing. I don’t know if they do it the same way there as here, but it always gave me the willies. I’m fine with them taking stuff out of me, but I don’t like them pumping the leftovers back into me after the filter out what they want.

    Most places here don’t give you payment (they don’t really want donors who are only doing it for money). Usually you will get a restaurant coupon and every gallon you usually get something like a coffee mug as recognition. I’ve got a coworker at 10 gallons and at that point you start getting invited to a special dinner every year.

  • T-Will

    I tried giving blood in college (about 5 years ago) and passed out while they were taking my blood pressure. I have a weird thing where when I can feel my heartbeat pounding I get all light-headed. If they would have just stuck the needle in and started drawing blood I would’ve been fine.

    At my current job though we get the Bloodmobile coming by every so often, so I’ve thought about donating one of these days, might as well give it a try and see if I pass out again. šŸ™‚

  • Give it a shot T-Will – when I was younger I was afraid of needles for one year, then the next year I was fine. So a lot can change in five years. šŸ™‚

  • James Cooney

    Way to advocate for donating blood! I talk about my own experience here

    I also prefer giving during work time — a nice excuse to take a break from the computer.