Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blood Donation

My first time giving blood was probably in 1979. The blood donation truck parked along the side of the building where I worked, making it easy and convenient to participate. I had no hesitation or fear; of course, being twenty-one years old could have been a major factor in my calm demeanor.

The process was simple: answering health related questions, having my temperature, blood pressure, and pulse taken, getting my finger pricked for a drop of blood to be tested for the level of hemoglobin, and then the actual donation.

I sat in the comfy chair and watched everything. For those of you that are a little squeamish, I’ll skip the play-by-play. Sometimes, I wonder if I missed my calling of being a doctor. Hmmm

Actually, it’s a very clean and precise procedure, and most people would be able to handle it.

During the next fifteen years, I donated frequently for periods of time, and other times with longs lapses in between. Most of the donations were set up by employers, but I have memories of seeking and going to other sites, too. I still have a plastic card listing my donation dates when I lived in Maryland. At that time, I gave via the American Red Cross.

When I married and moved back to Virginia in 1994, the donating stopped. I let all the distractions of life move blood donation to the back burner, or off the stove completely. The combined twenty-seven months of pregnancy and the combined forty-four months of breast-feeding kept me away from the blood drives. After reclaiming my body, it still took several years to get back to it.

A local television station (and others) sponsored a large blood drive for Virginia Blood Services that was held in a vacant building once occupied by a defunct retail chain store. The station advertised heavily. Every time I heard it, I thought…I should go. The kids were in Vacation Bible School – why not?

So I went.

It was almost the same as I remembered, but the differences, I can gladly say, were improvements. The advances in computer technology made it very easy to answer questions from a video, using a headset. Just listen, read along if you like, and tap “yes” or “no.”

Another difference was the amount of black people donating. In the past, I saw black people donating, but not many. Could it have been because the donation centers were not in areas heavily populated by black people and lack of advertisement/incentive, or was it “a cultural thing?”

This time, it appeared that at least sixty percent of the donators were black, and of all ages. That told me that (paraphrasing), if you build it, they will come. (Field of Dreams -1989) Even the blood collection specialist (phlebotomist), a black woman, was proud of the attendance response based on some comments she made to me.

And lastly, a “real” meal awaited me after the donation. I was treated to a buffet of delicious fixins to make a burrito salad worthy of a thumbs up from Chipotle. The donut from Krispy Kreme wasn’t bad either. What a pleasant surprise; I was expecting cookies, crackers, and juice. Can you tell that I was starving? Yum-meee!

I am eligible to donate again on September 7. Don’t forget to send me a reminder!

Donating blood saves lives.
Can you donate? Do you donate? Will you donate?


Judy Thomas said...

I used to give blood and was a plasma donor too- I worked with kids with blood disorders and cancers and wanted to help in that way too. I can't donate now, due to medication I am taking...sigh

Anita said...

JUDY, I suppose if more of us spent time with kids that have the challenges you mentioned, we'd step it up a notch or two when it comes to helping. Re: blood donation - good you did, while you could.

Hilary said...

I have yet to donate, though I would like to. My father does pretty consistently. Maybe he and I will go together on the 7th.

Anita said...

HILARY, what a great way to get started - going with your dad! It could become another father-daughter outing/tradition. Just kidding. Seriously, I hope that you will go and that it works out well for you. If not, there are other things. When your kids get older, there will be more and more knocks at your door. Challenges never cease. (Oh, if you go, you MUST write about it on your blog!)