Until yesterday, I had never given blood before. I always thought, “well, my veins are too small” or “I get woozy just having blood drawn for tests.” Then, last month the American Red Cross emailed information about a blood drive at my office building, and I thought, “Why not?”
As a first time blood donor, the Red Cross website had great information for me to prepare for giving blood. They have tips for a successful donation, what to expect and what happens to the blood after donation. I made sure I was well-hydrated and ate prior to my appointment.
The women walking me through all the preparation were fantastic and patient as I asked a ton of questions. I wasn’t really nervous through the registration, health history questions, mini-physical (including finger prick) or even the iodine being rubbed on on my arm. It wasn’t until she pulled out the needle that my heart rate jumped. I just looked away and the insertion of the needle was over in a second. I was pleasantly surprised that I never got dizzy and entire process of my blood filling the collection bag took only a few minutes. I even tried to race the woman donating next to me to see who’s bag would fill up first.
I thought I was moderately educated on the blood donation process, but it turns out there’s quite a bit I didn’t know. I knew the preparation process pretty well but it was the information they provided after my donation that was most insightful. According to my phlebotamist and the Red Cross website, after you give blood you should do the following.
- Drink an extra four glasses (eight ounces each) of non-alcoholic liquids.
- Keep your bandage on and dry for the next five hours, and do not do heavy exercising or lifting.
- If the needle site starts to bleed, raise your arm straight up and press on the site until the bleeding stops.
- Because you could experience dizziness or loss of strength, use caution if you plan to do anything that could put you or others at risk of harm.
The best part overall was learning that my one pint of blood donated could help three different people because it’s processed into red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Donating blood was an excellent experience and I absolutely plan to give regularly.