I have been trying to habitually donate blood every three months, as is safely allowed, for quite some time now. So, when my Friend asked me if i wanted to join him to donate blood for his ill relative, I was reminded that as per schedule it was time, and I joined him. The reason i am trying to make this a habit is because of the following fact:
"As soon as 24 hours after donating, your blood could be helping patients. Your blood's plasma might be saving a young hemophiliac, your platelets might be helping a cancer patient, while your white blood cells might be helping a newborn fight a serious infection."
So, by donating blood once, you will be actually helping as many as Three people. Source
If you are feeling squirmy already by reading the word 'Blood', please do not worry about this post describing the details of how painful it was. Read On. I am just going to write how painless and efficient the process was and about one side-effect it had on my plans.
The side effect is that I did not know that Athletes who are preparing for an event or are very close to one are not advised to donate blood, since the body takes some time to return to optimum performance levels required for a sport. With the upcoming running event, i had to slow down my practice for a few days.
Interesting breakdown of how exactly donor blood will be used
My friend gives me a ride on his vehicle and we land a few minutes later at the University Medical Center, Jyothi , Mangalore. The Blood Center is located on the first floor where as soon as you enter, the reception person asks you to fill out on a form your personal information and your current health information to ensure that you are in good health to donate blood safely. On submitting the form, the person in charge enters the details onto the computer, assigns a reference ID for thier records and asked us to report to Room 2 inside, where it all happens.
On entering, a Phlebotomist(Professional Blood Technician) asked us the requisite questions regarding our last meal, general health and also if we have donated blood before. On affirming that we could donate blood, she directed us to go on ahead. In the actual area where they draw blood, 4 Lounge style Padded-chairs with Padded arm rests lie with an assisting machine for each chair.
On lying down, the in-charge Phlebotomist came over and set up the machine next to the chair. She plugged in a new plastic pack to collect the blood into the machine - which basically measures the blood that has been collected, keeps shaking the bag so that the blood does not coagulate, and also gives an indication by beeping when a pint of blood is collected in the bag. The lady then continued by sticking the needle into my vein by first finding it, which is slightly tricky if you are well built, and applying spirit over it to sterilize the area. Honestly, the only pain I felt was when this needle was inserted and removed and it was not very significant amount of pain.
As soon as the Needle is inserted, you can see dark and thick red fluid, Blood - being pumped by your heart, as it starts filling the bag in question. The lady handed me a stress relieving ball and i was asked to press/depress it continuously so that blood flow would be easy and uniform. Few minutes later the machine started beeping, indicating that the deed was done, and pushed down a trigger hard on the pipe, thus cutting flow into the bag and stopping excess blood from flowing out from my vein into the pipe. The Phlebotomist came over and removed the Needle(Nano-Ouch!), put a spirity-cotton ball on it and asked me to wait. Meanwhile, she took the bag over to a dispenser of some sort where the needle is cut safely in wake of sparks, supposedly some form of sterilizing mechanism, and disposed. The Bag is then sent over to the Lab for analysis of safeness.
After lying down there for 5 minutes, they plonk a small band-aid on my needle-prick wound, hand me Apple Juice Carton to suck on and chill in the waiting area outside.
Done ! I am out in about 25 minutes since i entered. Its that fast and safe and painless.
The reason i keep stressing on the painless part is because apparently - 96% of the population is a consumer and 4% is Donor. Which means that the number of Blood donors are very few when compared with the demand. Realize that you have a duty to your fellow beings and donating blood is one of the most human things that you can do to help.
However, be sure to note some important things -
- If you are an athlete about to take part in an upcoming event, DO NOT donate blood until you have completed the event. Your performance levels get affected and it takes about a week or two to return to your best performance levels. This does not mean, you will have weakness. But, just that you will need to take it easy.
- Ensure that you have had a meal in the four hours leading to your Blood Donation time.
- It is Painless !