I am a new blood donor

And yesterday was my first time donating.

For those of you who have done it before, I’m sure you feel it’s such a great “walk in the park” after everything is set and done.

Everything happens in one area (room) that they set up that morning and you go through the “stations” one at a time and wait for your turn to donate. I was quite nervous going in, but everything turned out just fine and I got to snack on cookies and juice at the end.

You can visit Canadian Blood Services website, find a clinic in your area and book an appointment. Going to one of these events by yourself for the first time is a little nerve racking and you’re constantly asking yourself a million questions, which all start with either a “why” or a “how”. But rest assured, everyone there is very nice and welcoming and they help you every step of the way. They answer all the questions you may have and they watch over you closely so nothing gets out of hand.

Step One

You will walk though the doors and into a little receiving area. Generally they have a table setup by the entrance where you present your ID or Donor Card. They write your info down, give you a folder with a pamphlet to read through and send you off to the next “station”. She also will give you a sticker with “First Time Blood Donor” that will let the nurses know you’re a “newbie” 😉

Step Two

When your turn comes, you will be seated in front of a nurse that will continue with the registration in their system. She will also prick your finger to withdraw a little blood and check your hemoglobin count. A good count is over 125, and it means you can donate that day. My count was 148! (great iron content 😉 ). She will also give you a questionnaire, about your health and medical history, that you need to answer before proceeding to the next “station”.

Step Three

After you answered the questionnaire, and your turn came again to see someone, you will be seated with another nurse that will go over further questions about your medical history to make a judgement if you are fit to donate at that point in time. She will also take your blood pressure and temperature. Then, she will put about 4 blood bags in your folder and send you to the next “station”. She will assure you that today you will only be filling one of the bags, and the lab will use the rest as they break the blood into different parts 😉

Step Four

As you wait for your turn again, and you scan the room, a little panic will set in, as you may see some people being pale or uncomfortable. Those are mostly the first timers that are so nervous, their system is going wild. And I did feel a little scared that I would embrace myself and pass out or something. Not the case! You will be assisted by a nurse to a free seat. She will setup the bag and the needle, and prepare your arm for it. The comfy long chair is slightly laid back, so your head and legs are roughly at same height. The nurse, will give you a “ball” of paper towel to squeeze, she will find the good vein and set the needle through. then you will just have to relax and play with the paper ball so the blood has a good flow. The blood bag is set on a machine that weighs it and also moves it back and forth to agitate the blood. About 20 minutes later, you are all done. The bag and about 4 vials hold a total of roughly 500ml of blood. That’s it! That’s all it takes – a small bottle of water 🙂

Step Five

After the nurse is done with the bag, you will wait seated for about 7-10 minutes to make sure you don’t get dizzy as you get up. After, you are assisted to the last “station” – the snack bar! They have for you cookies, and candy, and juices to help raise your blood sugar. A great excuse to ruin your diet! You spend about 5-10 minutes there too and when you feel ready to go, you need to let them know so they watch over you as you make your way out (in case of any late dizziness).

THERE YOU HAVE IT!

5 easy steps and you are out of there! The whole process takes about an hour or so and you will feel like a million bucks by the end of it!

You will walk out of there with a smile on your face and a bigger heart.

And don’t forget – it’s in you to give! It helps your body by creating new blood cells, and it could be crucial in helping to save a life!

Note: Before your donation appointment, make sure you drink lots of fluids a few days before and the day of. Coffee AND tea dehydrate the body, so if you do have coffee that day, make sure you also drink lots and lots of water! I didn’t know and the veins on both arms were a little tight and I cringed when the nurse said “this may hurt a little”

 

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