Donating blood has always been on my to do list but I never really took the time to research it or actually do it. My first blood donation was last November when I tagged along with my BF when he went for his second donation. As the Canadian Blood Services slogan says, “It’s in you to give” so why not?
I’m trying to keep up with it but I got rejected last time because my hemoglobin levels were too low to donate so I was really glad that I was able to donate this time. The goal is to go every two-three months. The BF and I are trying to coordinate times so we can go together.
It’s my way of trying to volunteer on a consistent basis. The entire process takes about an hour and you can donate blood every two months or so. There are other options as well, platelets or plasma donations are also done at the clinics and there is a separate guideline for those donations.
There are four steps to the blood donation (taken from the CBS website):
- Registration. All donors are required to register with Canadian Blood Services by providing proof of identity with your full name and signature such as a donor card or full name and photograph such as a valid driver’s license.
- Screening. Screening ensures both your safety when giving blood, and also protects patients from transmissible disease. It involves physical tests and answering questions on general health, travel history and high-risk activities, consistent with the guidelines of Health Canada’s Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate.
- Donation. When you are taken into the donation area, your arm is swabbed with a disinfecting agent to ensure the needle site is sterile. A new, sterile needle is used for every donation and used needles are safely disposed. When your blood is drawn, a portion is kept for testing, and about 450 ml is collected for transfusion. While your blood is being drawn, staff monitors you and your progress to make sure you continue to feel well and there are no concerns. After the needle is removed, sterile gauze is applied to cover the puncture site.
- Recovery. Once you have finished donating blood, the clinic staff is there to ensure you are feeling alright. There’s a short recovery time, about 5 minutes, during which they monitor you to make sure you have no adverse reaction to donating. Then you’ll be shown to the refreshment area and given food and beverages to boost your blood sugar level (there are cookies and juice!!). When you leave the clinic for the rest of the day, drink plenty of fluids such as water or juice (avoid alcoholic beverages), avoid strenuous activity for 6 to 8 hours.
And that’s it!