Be Positive: First Blood Donor Experience

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By: Nolan Temple

I’d never donated blood until the American Red Cross held a blood drive in Columbus State’s Davidson Center, and I was able to spare about a pint of my life force. Earlier this summer, they announced that there was a shortage of available blood and called for emergency donations. Before then, I didn’t realize summer months typically lead to shortages. According to redcrossblood.org, “nearly 700 fewer blood drives are scheduled during the Independence Day week than the weeks before and after the holiday.” This leads to “about 61,000 fewer donations,” mostly because the people who usually donate are away on vacation. 

I scheduled an appointment through their website, though they also have an app for consistent donors to keep track of events and their donation history. I made sure to eat a meal and drink plenty of water that morning. Although I set an appointment for 2 p.m., I don’t think it would’ve mattered if I had just walked in. It wasn’t very busy at that time, with only two people donating in medical recliners and one in the waiting area. I signed in on a computer next to the Columbus Room entrance, took a seat, and began leafing through pamphlets. After reading all the lists and information about eligibility requirements, I was called into a makeshift cubicle. 

A Red Cross volunteer asked me questions about my general health and if I’ve visited any countries listed on the pamphlets in the last however many days, I had my temperature, blood pressure and pulse examined. He pricked my finger to check my hemoglobin levels, which determine if my blood cells have enough oxygen. The volunteer was blunt but diligent, ensuring that everything was clear for me to proceed. 

Another volunteer seated me at one of the medical recliners, each with hooks for bags and tubes. The nurse told me to relax and squeeze the rubber grip to help my veins show. She found a visible one in my right arm. My hands were sweaty, as I’m not too keen on needles. I understand their necessity and don’t mind once they’re in, but the moment right before they penetrate the skin is torture. Once the bag was placed on the side of the chair, she asked me to relax again. I looked away as the needle pierced into my skin and through to my vein, but it was quick. The bag filled up after about 10 minutes, and after removing the tape, the nurse pulled the needle out. The tape hurt worse than the actual removal of the needle. On a scale of one to 10, it was about a three. 

I didn’t mind my donation and was glad to be of help to someone. A pint of blood goes a long way. I found out my blood type is a B+a week later, a type attributed to roughly 8-9% of the population, or 1 in every 12 people. There will always be a need blood donations. If eligible, everyone should try donating at least once.