So this week I located the big red bus aka the Australian Red Cross Blood Service Donor Centre not too far away from our office. I mentioned to Simone my plans of donating blood for the first time & before I knew it she was on board as well.
After doing some research online about what to expect and if there is anything we need to do in preparation I also stumbled across some interesting information. Not only does the recipient benefit from the donation but also the donor!
Here are the top 5 reasons for donating blood
The Joy of Saving Human Lives
Free Health Check-up
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Read more about these benefits here
As first time donors, Simone & I were surprised in the difference of our experiences, so we decided to share them with you below;
What was your reason for donating blood?
Simone: I have actually had a phobia of needles since I was a small child AND I tend to pass out at the sight of blood! So this was kind of like a ‘face your fears’ experience for me. I had wanted to donate for years but always been too scared to. I knew it could save lives, but for some reason I kept allowing my fear to stop me. That was until Cath told me she was donating and I thought, why not! Lets do this!
Cath: I have been meaning to donate for awhile now, about 3 months ago I saw the big red bus on the way to work and thought today is my day, however life got in the way. But when I saw it for the second time (last week), I was determined to pop my blood donation cherry, as who doesn't want to help save lives while sitting in a chair.
How did you feel during the donation?
Simone: I was actually petrified – all the way up until they stuck me with the needle. Then I was fine.
They ask you so many questions in the lead up. It is really quite hard to be an eligible donor. In fact if you have even been out of the country in the past 4 months you are not eligible, and if you have had acupuncture or piercings in the past 6 months. If you are over the age of 65, have recently been in hospital, had the flu or even if you are homosexual – these are all potential factors that may mean you are not eligible to donate. Plus the list goes on. But that is why it is so important to donate regularly if you are eligible!
Cath: I'm not going to lie, I was quite nervous awaiting my needle, prompting me to ask the blood collecter, 'what did it feel like?' he said 'everyone's pain threshold is different, however I think it's the uncertaintity that people fear most'.. with that, in went the needle, it felt like a sharp pinch.. then nothing .. yes nothing, blood was flowing and I was sitting back relaxing watching the World Cup on TV, happy days. Six & a half minutes later my bag was full, yep apparently if this was a sport, I would be an Olympic contender, haha.
How did you feel after the donation?
Simone: I couldn’t believe that it actually hurt less than a blood test. The finger prick test that they do at the beginning hurt more. Well not the actual prick – that didn’t hurt at all. More the sting after, and it is just that - a little itty bitty sting. I have NO IDEA what I was afraid of!
Unfortunately the vein that we used to get blood out must have had a valve near it? Don’t quote me. It’s just what the nurse told me. Anyway, it meant my blood didn’t flow quickly or strongly enough so the machine made this horrid beeping sound and we eventually had to stop the donation short, as I couldn’t fill the bag.
Apparently it wasn’t enough for a full sample but they could use it for platelet donation. I was pretty disappointed after the donation. But also relieved that they managed to get any blood out of me at all. And I was also excited that I was now registered to donate and could come back in 3 months and try again.
Cath: As per protocol, I was asked to remain seated for another 10 minutes after the collection. Then I was then offered a selection of sweet and salty treats, crackers, biscuits & muffins oh my! There was also bottles of water and juice for rehydration. After a drink & a few snacks I was feeling great, not just physically but mentally, it's a real fist pump moment.
What was your overall experience?
Simone: I was elated walking out of the big red (blood donor) bus. I had faced my fears, and while I didn’t donate quite as much as I had hoped, I still made a difference. I was really happy in myself. In fact I felt like super woman! Like I was doing my part to help save lives, one platelet at a time.
Cath: Yes the initial paperwork was time consuming (mainly as this was my first time), but what is time when you can effortlessly be apart of saving human lives!
Would you donate again?
Simone: Oh yeah! I am all booked in for when the bus returns to Warners Bay on the 13th of September. Might just see you there!
Cath: You betcha! In 3 months time you will find me on the bus, sleeves up, waiting to contribute in possibly saving another 3 lives!
We hope after reading this that we have inspired those of you who are able but unsure, to give blood, to give life.