Thursday, June 16, 2011

Give a pint

I finally did it today. I volunteered to have a needle stuck in me and gave up a pint of my precious blood. I haven’t ever really had too strong of a desire to part with my good old red blood cells, but I decided at the beginning of this year that it was something that I could do to help save someone else’s life. So, I mustered up the courage and signed up for my work’s blood drive.

The Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) converted one of our conference rooms into a makeshift blood donation center and set up three tables for donors and another partitioned area for registration and screening. My coworker/friend Ashley had signed up also, so at least I had a buddy to commiserate with me in this somewhat uncomfortable experience.

Once we arrived in the room, we were corralled over to the partitioned areas, seated at separate computer stations and asked to read over three pages of information pertaining to blood donation. Basically, it just listed medications you weren’t supposed to use or countries you shouldn’t have visited. Then, one of the OBI staff came over, asked for my ID and filled out some basic information on the computer and left me to answer an online questionnaire of yes/no questions. These questions started out with how you’re feeling today to recent foreign travel, then on to the fun sexual history questions to make sure you don’t have AIDS. I have actually traveled to several countries in the past three years (with the honeymoon and cruises), so I had to dig into my memory and tried to list every single place I’ve visited. I could sense that the lady was rather annoyed at my extensive travel history after I listed four and still wasn’t done, so I think I might have left off Canada (it’s pretty much like the US, right).

After all that, came a temperature, blood pressure, heart rate reading and then the little uncomfortable prick to the finger, where she squeezed out a drop of blood and inserted it into some machine that screens for several different diseases and makes sure your iron levels are high enough. As expected, no diseases for me…yay. So, I was set up with a packet of tubes, bags and papers and sent over to the waiting area since the donor tables were full. Ashley was already on the table and having her blood drawn, when after a little while voiced that she wasn’t feeling so great, which made me a little unnerved and concerned. The phlebotomist rushed over with ice packs to cool her off, a Gatorade to replenish her fluids and lowered her table so she was flat on her back, which seemed to do the trick. She was back to normal. 

Just as she was finishing up, came my turn. I hopped onto the table, was covered in a paper sheet, and had my arm properly positioned for blood donation. Then came the fun part…finding a vein. I am well aware of my miniscule little, needle-shy blood vessels. Every time that I’ve ever had blood drawn, it becomes some kind of mission, usually requiring reinforcements, to find a vein. This time was no different; two phlebotomists poked and prodded around for at least 10 minutes before finally locating one little vein.

Once the lady finally stuck the needle in, she moved it around every which way up there in my arm to find that little guy, which hurt pretty badly. After that though, it was fairly easy from there. However, it seemed like the blood just trickled out of my arm and took much longer than other people, even with all the rigorous squeezing I was doing to my stress ball thing. 

Overall, I would have to say that the entire experience was mostly painless. Right now, I just have a small bruise on my arm to show for it, and I got some goodies for donating (a t-shirt, two free zoo passes and an iPhone case) and the satisfaction that I will be helping someone in the future. Would I do it again? Most likely. Will it be anytime soon? Probably not. 

If you're looking to donate blood with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, click here to find a blood drive near you. The American Red Cross is also another organization that coordinates blood drives nationwide.


  1. I wish I could donate!  They won't let me, because my father was stationed in Germany during those "mad cow" years.  Sooo, I guess they think I have mad cow in me somewhere. 

  2. Oh, that explains it...haha, J/K. That's weird that after all these years with no signs of mad cow, they wouldn't let you donate. But they were very specific with all the mad cow questions. I'm glad we got to hang out with you and Mark yesterday! Have fun in'll have to tell me all about your trip. We were actually thinking of going this year too! :)

  3. Ha. Ha. Ha.  ;-)

    Yeah, I'll let you know how it goes!  I can't believe I've never been to Chicago!  What's up with that? 

    It was great seeing you too!  Sorry I couldn't come over. :-(