Did you know that January is National Blood Donor Month??
Donating blood is a great way to help others… but as the Red Cross says, you don’t need a special reason to give blood… you just need your OWN reason.
When I found out that the TD Garden was hosting a blood drive yesterday, I immediately set up an appointment to donate. The last time I donated blood was when I was 18 years old. It was a self-donation for my spinal fusion surgery to correct my scoliosis. All I remember was that I was pretty woozy afterwards, so the nurses made me hang out for about an hour, drink apple juice, eat graham crackers and watch General Hospital.
This time around, the apple juice was still the featured drink, the graham crackers were replaced with Swedish fish, pretzels (and other things that I never buy because I eat them all in one sitting), and instead of getting sucked into the lives of fictional TV characters, you could people-watch in real time!
|lucky for me, the sour gummy bears were portioned :)|
One small caveat though... I disqualified myself by having "too much grip strength".
After going through the physical, questionnaire and iron level test, I was ushered to the table where a friendly tech was waiting. I started chit-chatting with her about where she works and other events she goes to and found out that she is a veteran when it comes to giving blood. Right away, my nerves were eased. I figured, she does this all the time... what could go wrong?
As she set me up to start collecting my pint of blood, she gave me a stress ball that fit right in the palm of my hand and told me to squeeze it every 15 seconds or so. After a few minutes, she motioned for another nurse to come over... apparently, my blood looked "weird". Awesome.
As they lifted up the covering over the needle, they discovered that the needle had almost completely come out of my arm. They told me that I had squeezed the stress ball too hard. Huh?? I didn't know whether to be baffled or impressed.
Unfortunately, the other arm couldn't be used to try again because the bag had already started collecting. The collected blood had to be discarded. I joked to the tech about not knowing the strength of my own grip... but on the inside, I was SO bummed.
This was really important to me. Aside from helping out, donating also hit home for me for a specific reason…
When my mom was rushed to the hospital last month, we discovered that she had lost a lot of blood. Although blood transfusions were not enough to save her in the end, they were vital for initially stabilizing her.
Knowing that the hospital had enough of a supply on hand made me realize how important it is to continue restocking these reserves for future patients. I have to wait the standard 56 days before giving again but plan to try again.
Before all of this happened, I had some downtime to read material on blood donation. I’m a sucker for interesting statistics and learned a few from the Red Cross…
Red Cross Blood Donation Statistics and Facts:
- Every 2 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion
- 1 pint of whole blood (the most common donation type) can save up to 3 lives
- Less than 38% of the population is eligible to give blood… but less than 10% of them actually do
- Blood cannot be manufactured; it can only come from volunteer donors
- Only about 7% of people in the U.S. have the Universal donor blood type, “O negative”
- Healthy bone marrow makes a constant supply of red cells, plasma and platelets… what you donate can be replenished in as little as a few hours or may take a few weeks.
I've been interested in becoming more involved with volunteering for causes close to my heart and I think donating blood is a great way to give back. Although I'm disappointed that it didn't work out for me this time, I definitely intend to become a regular donor and hope you will consider doing the same.
Have you ever donated blood before?? What was your reason?