I joined the Red Cross Youth org in my university during my college years. While I handled several projects for the org, I never got around to donating blood. At the time, I was afraid of the needles used, the sight of blood or the medical team sometimes had trouble locating the blood vessel in my arm optimal for blood extraction.
I started donating blood a few years ago. The employees’ union at my office had a bloodletting activity and, as a show of support and with some friendly competition among my coworkers, I joined those donating blood. It was fairly painless plus the union officers even gave me a mug and a shirt as a souvenir.
Since then, health and schedule permitting, I have tried to regularly donate blood at a nearby hospital. I even brought my husband with me once and we made the experience into a bonding activity. On my next donation this December, I plan to bring my eldest daughter so I can instill the habit in her as well.
My reason for donating blood is that it’s one of the easiest ways I can contribute to someone’s life. One pint of blood can be broken down into three components – red blood cells, plasma and platelets – thereby possibly saving up to three lives.
And don’t worry about your donation going to waste. There’s actually a lot of demand for donated blood. Yours may even reach the farthest areas in the country, and may help save lives in far-flung provinces.
Given the demands on my time and resources, I can’t contribute much to charity or volunteer at my chosen causes. Giving blood, however, simply involves a trip to the hospital and a few minutes at the blood bank, or some time away from my desk during the office’s blood donation drive.
Blood donation also affords me several health benefits:
- A free mini-physical that checks my pulse and blood pressure as well as a free blood analysis that checks for the presence of infectious diseases.
- Prevents hemachromatosis, a health condition brought about by too much iron in the blood. By maintaining healthy iron levels in the blood, the risk of certain cancers, liver and heart ailments are also minimized.
- It helps in weight loss. Every donation burns around 650 calories, which to me is the equivalent to three hours at the treadmill.
- It also stimulates production of new blood cells further contributing to the maintenance of good health.
To be eligible to donate, I needed to be the following:
- In good health. You should be feeling well at the time of donation.
- Between 16 to 65 years of age. If below 18, you will need your parent’s consent to be able to donate.
- Weighing at least 110 pounds.
- Having a normal blood pressure, between 90 and 160 mmHg (systolic), 60 and 100 mmHg (diastolic)
- Able to pass the physical and health history assessments that will be conducted immediately before the donation.
After the procedure, I was given refreshments (usually a snack and a juice box which I should consume before leaving the donor area), and these reminders:
- Rest and remain in the area for 15 minutes.
- Increase fluid intake for the next 24 hours.
- No smoking within the next 3 hours and no alcoholic beverages for the next 24 hours.
- No strong pressure or heavy lifting on the donating arm for the next 24 hours to avoid bruising.
- No strenuous activity or hazardous work for the next few hours.
Blood donation is a way for me to give of myself. It is my gift of life to whoever has the urgent need for it.
If you want to donate blood, check out the Red Cross website for more information.