Facing Blood Donation Fear to Save Lives
Was it Eleanor Roosevelt that said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”?
Well, last week I did something that has scared me for my entire life when I put on my big girl panties and donated blood for the very first time and I DID IT!!! Man, does it feels good to conquer a fear!
Now that I know what to expect, next time will be easier, and for anyone who has feared donating blood, I am writing this post to share the real scoop on exactly how it works. You too can do it! It’s really not that big of a deal. But first…
Why Is It Important to Donate Blood?
* 1 pint of donated blood can save 3 lives
* Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood
* Approximately 41,000 blood donations are needed every day
* 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer yearly, many will need blood sometimes daily, during chemotherapy
* A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood
* Donated blood has a shelf life, which is why continuous donations are needed
Facing Blood Donation Fear: I Did It for Ben
This beautiful boy, Ben, lost his life last year at the tender age of 4-years-old to rare forms of leukemia.
Over the course of his treatment, he received over 50 blood transfusions as well as a bone marrow transplant from a donor that was a match in Germany.
Ben’s family goes to our elementary school. His passing affected our community deeply.
When I saw the flyer and heard about it, I knew this was my chance to face a lifelong fear, donating blood. I might not have been able to do it before, but I could deal with facing blood donation fear for Ben and for any people who might need my blood.
How to Donate Blood
First off, here is information eligibility. All good? Time to find a drive!
1. Find a Blood Drive Near You
It’s really easy and blood drives are going on every day. All you need to do is visit www.redcrossblood.org, then put in your zip code under “Find a Blood Drive” and you will see all the blood drives close to you. Select the one you want, then make an appointment that is most convenient or drop in during operating hours.
2. Prep Your Bod for Blood Giving
I was told it is important to eat a healthy meal beforehand, not too heavy or greasy, and drink an additional 16 oz of non-caffeinated fluids before as well. Also, pay attention to getting some iron-rich foods in your diet in the days before and get a good night’s sleep. You can find out more tips on how to prepare here.
3. Save Time with Rapid Pass
The day of the blood collection ONLY (has to be the day of) visit www.redcrossblood.org/rapidpass and you can complete the health questionnaire online before going. You will also be fascinated with the types of questions you will be asked.
4. Show Up + Go Through Registration
Bring your photo ID, list of any medications you are taking, and budget enough time for the whole donation process, which for me was about 1 hour 15 mins total. You will first be given a little mini physical…temperature, blood pressure, etc. and they will take a prick of blood from your finger to test and make sure you are eligible to give.
5. It’s “Go” Time
I told my registration lady that I wanted the very best, most experienced person to do the needle since it was my first time. She told me OK, and matched me up with someone. Now I have no idea if this really was the best person, but psychologically it helped me to think so. Finally the moment arrived, and it was time for me to face my fear. I was led to a bed and laid down.
It’s so mental.
It took several minutes to prep everything, and then finally I was given a little foam block and told to squeeze. It was go time. The needle went in, little pinch, and I was told just to relax and lightly squeeze the foam thing about every 5 seconds for the duration.
If you are squeamish, just don’t look. I actually closed my eyes for the WHOLE ENTIRE TIME. I didn’t look one time at anything. I just tried to think of other things. In the future I would bring headphones and listen to music or listen to something distracting. I took the time to pray and so some deep breathing and relaxation. I tried to keep my mind off of it.
Next thing I knew, the guy said, “You’re done!”
I was DONE?! That was it? I asked him how long it took to actually get my blood they needed, and it was 8 minutes. Interesting. I asked him the average amount of time, and he said 7 – 12 minutes. It’s quick!!!
6. After You Donate Blood
I was told to just lay there for a few moments after, and then slowly sit up. They gave me a bottle of water and told me to drink all of it while I was sitting on the edge of the bed. I felt a little light headed, but nothing terrible. However, I thought I was OK to get up finally, but one of the nurses turned me right around and told me to go sit down for a little while longer. I must not have been as ready as I thought. I probably sat on the edge of the table for about 15 minutes.
Afterwards I transitioned to the snack station where I drank another bottle of water and had some cookies. By the time I was ready to leave, I felt pretty good, and then I made sure to go home and eat a meal and drank extra water for the rest of the day.
They told me no alcohol for 24 hours and no lifting or vigorous exercise after, so plan accordingly.
The rest of the day I felt a little woozy and out of it, that’s the best way to describe it, but could carry on my normal afternoon activities. By evening I felt almost 100%. Overall, I was FINE!!! And I DID IT!!!!!
I felt so blessed to be able to face this fear. More than that, I loved feeling like I was a part of something good that came out of something so tragic. Ben and his legacy are saving lives and that is so incredibly powerful. Here I am with his beautiful mom, Liz, what an amazing event to be a part of.
Are you interested in hosting a blood drive for your community? Click here to find out how. It’s easier than you think!