This is one of those rare posts of mine where the focus is not photography. Today, I gave blood through the American Red Cross. This was my third time giving blood in the last two years. I have O positive blood, which while not being the universal donor (O negative), my blood can be given to any recipient who also has a positive blood type. Each time I give blood I think about how important it is to give blood if you are able. Just 45 minutes of your time every 2 months or more can save up to 3 lives each time you donate. It almost seems like a no-brainer, but so many people do not take the time to do it. Here is a little bit of an explanation of what it is like to give blood (DISCLAIMER: If you are squeamish at the sight of needles or blood (contained in a tube), you may want to stop reading here):
First off, you check-in. I made an appointment and have a donor card which made the process a little simpler. You even get a nice sticker:
While you wait to be called back, you read information and see the criteria that would make you unqualified to give blood.
When you are called back, your pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and iron level are all taken (almost like a free physical!) to make sure you’re healthy enough to give. You then take a quick yes-or-no questionnaire to make sure you do not fit any of the criteria that you read about while waiting.
After you finish, you go lay (well, sit-up) on a bed and tell them which arm you would prefer to have the blood drawn from. The nurse then locates a vein on your arm:
Next, the area is prepped with some brownish liquid. I once asked what it was, but I do not remember anymore. It might be a local analgesic.
Throughout the process, the nurse has to scan what seems like a million barcodes for test tubes and the bags your blood will go into. Then, probably the most dreaded part for most people, the needle. Now, the needles they use to draw blood are much thicker than the ones you see when you get a shot, but the pain from the initial prick is largely the same and doesn’t feel that bad once it is in there.
Once the blood gets flowing, you just have 5-15 minutes before a unit of your blood (approximately half a liter) is evacuated from your body and you’re ready to go (as long as you feel fine)! You get a wonderful red bandage, some free food and drink and then you’re free to go knowing you just helped save lives!
For those of you in the U.S. interested in giving blood, visit the American Red Cross’ website to search for a blood drive near you!