I received a flyer from the Central Jersey Blood Center a few weeks ago. I immediately called to make my appointment to donate blood. It’s really important that people become blood donors. According to the Red Cross, “ approximately 32,000 pints of blood are used every day in the United States. Other figures state that although 60% of adults are eligible to donate blood, only 5% do regularly (Yahoo! Voices).” Blood donations save lives. They help accident victims, mothers who have lost blood giving birth, and other surgeries. The worst part about giving blood to me is the initial wait, then the tourniquet that’s wrapped around your arm while you’re squeezing so a vein can be found. It’s always amusing to me that the nurses can’t find my veins and they think I am kidding when I tell them so. I tip them off to go for my left arm since there’s a small vein hiding in there that’s always a winner! Once you’re screened, prepped and ready to go, the nurse tapes tubes to your arm and sticks you with a needle. While the needle looks big and scary, it’s really not that painful. I think that squeezing your hand into a fist helps with that. All that’s left is to lie back and relax and have your blood taken. While most people don’t like to watch the blood flow from their arm, I can’t help but look. I’m oddly fascinated that that much blood comes out of my body at one time!
Once your donation is finished, there is a short recovery period. For some, it can be about 20-30 minutes if they’ve had some sort of reaction to the donation like nausea, dizziness or exhaustion. For me, I was ready to leave as soon as I was done! For safety reasons, no matter how you feel you need to stay for a short time after your donation. But it’s not all bad! They give you a free drink and a snack to help you get back to good (I had two small water bottles and a snack bag of pretzels). Because a lot of people were having reactions, I was kept longer even though I felt energized and maybe even a little better than I was before my donation! I let out a yawn and a woman came rushing up to me. I told her I was yawning simply because I was sitting there not doing anything, not because I was having a reaction. The man standing next to me laughed at her and said, “Yeah, this one’s fine! She’s taking pictures and sending them to Facebook.” Before I took my photo, he stuck a “VIP Blood Donor” sticker on me. Then I was sent on my merry way, feeling good–not just in general, but because my pint of blood is going to help save someone’s life. That is a pretty amazing contribution.