Today was the first time I ever donated blood, and I have to admit, I was slightly scared. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this irrational fear of needles, which has prevented me (probably for the best really) from getting any piercings or tattoos (of which I really want the latter). When I was in highschool, we had a blood donor clinic every year. They’d stay around for one week to make sure that everyone had a chance to donate, and learn about the process. I was unable to donate then, because I was just so small and perpetually underweight (I was 100 lbs at the age of 14 in grade 9).
This fear of needles mixed with the fear of being turned away from being able to donate was very much present today. Luckily enough, I’ve grown significantly since I was in the ninth grade, and was able to donate without any problems. That took care of one of my fears. The other was the needle. See, in my mind, I was worried that they’d miss my vein and have to keep poking my arm until they got it in, leaving me with multiple holes that bled freely, or that I’d sneeze, the force of which would send out too much blood and I’d pass out and die. As you can tell, I tend to over think things way too much.
But then I met the lady who would be taking my blood, and if it wasn’t for her, this irrational fear wouldn’t have gone away. Her name was Monique, and she was just so kind and calm. She talked me through the entire process of blood donation, from how they would take my blood, and at the hospital, would then decide to use it as a whole, or separate the blood from the platelets and plasma to use independently from one another. She even told me somthing that I never knew before, which was that most people who donate blood are also registed bone marrow donors, as it’s the marrow that helps in the production of the blood and the anti-bodies in the blood that helps to fight off infections and diseases.
She then told me a story of how she was working as an nurse in an emergency room, and this one kid who was only 20 years old at the time, came in with nearly total blood loss. He had been at a party, and another person swung a knife backwards, which had pierced through the skin and severed the femoral artery, one of the major arteries in your entire body. They were unable to place a tourniquet on it, so they had one nurse place her entire body pressure on the kid to prevent further blood loss. When he arrived, they gave him 40 units of blood immediately (O negative, the universal giver) before they could find out what his type was and give him more of that, and as they were about to operate on him, they lost him. They did this three times, and three times he flatlined. Finally, they were able to stablize him, and two weeks later, he walked out of the hospital with his father after thanking the staff that had saved his life profusely.
If it hadn’t been for the people who had donated, he would not have survived even the ride in the ambulance. It’s because we are able to give blood ever two months, with next to no adverse affects to us, that we can indirectly save lives of those who need it. It’s such a simple process, and the benefits completely outweigh the nearly non-existant cons.
They weren’t kidding when they created the slogan, “Blood. It’s in you to give,” because it really is. So, if you are able to, find out when the donor clinic will be in your town next, and please, donate. Who knows, maybe your blood will help save someone else.