By: Chelsea Perry
To donate blood, follow the link on the Canadian Blood Services website to set up your appointment, or stop in to the clinic at 85 Fitzroy Street. (The Guardian)
I was sitting peacefully at my desk last week when my boss purposefully entered the room on his bi-monthly blood donation recruitment.
“Chelsea!” he exclaimed, rocking the back of my desk chair. “Are ya going to give blood with me today?”
My boss is a community leader, and someone for whom I have a lot of respect. He’s just a genuinely good guy. I am convinced he could ask me to donate one of my kidneys and I’d at least strongly consider it.
Blood donation was something I’ve tried in the past, but being a woman of many tattoos, the timing was never right and I got sent home. Fortunately for me, the mandatory wait time between tattoos and blood donation was reduced to three months.
So I said yes.
While I was waiting around, I messaged a few friends to ask them if they’d donated, and if so, what their experience had been like.
“I passed out.”
“I threw up.”
I got to the clinic around 3pm, and being a first time donor, I had to register. Make a note to bring photo ID with you when you donate, as it’s required.
As well, it is recommended that you drink lots of water and eat a salty snack before donation. I didn’t do either, but alas. You should.
After you register, you’re going to get directed to a booth where you will fill out a questionnaire to determine if you’re eligible to give blood.
There is a lengthy list of restrictions, mostly surrounding travel, drug usage, and health conditions. Not having handled monkey poop or done cocaine in a hot minute, I was clear.
On a more serious note, the current Canadian Blood Services policy prohibits a man who has had sex with another man in the past year from donating blood. Besides being discriminatory, this bars CBS, who regularly experience donor shortages, from a huge pool of healthy, safe donations. That’s not the point of this article, but is certainly something to think about.
After I filled out the questionnaire, I got pulled into a back office where a staff member goes over my questionnaire answers with me, and pricks my finger. This is to test my hemoglobin (a protein containing iron) levels. Surprisingly, all was well! (I was an anemic kid.)
Next, they bring you out to the main area where they steal your blood. There was a woman there donating who had to have been at least late 70s – a total badass.
So, the staff worker was setting me up in my chair. Squeezing my arm, and then my other arm, she looked for a nice juicy vein, which I apparently don’t have. But they made do, and inserted the needle in one smooth motion. Maybe I’ve become immune to needles after being tattooed multiple times, but it really wasn’t bad. At all.
I wanted to get some pictures for this story so I kept my eye on my blood bag, waiting to feel dizzy or nauseous or something.
But nothing happened.
Five minutes and forty-nine seconds later, I was done. Apparently that’s around the average time. Cheers to mediocrity.
When donating blood, the standard donation is approximately 450 mL, slightly less than half a litre or two cups. This represents a small portion of the blood in a person’s body, as the average adult has about 5 litres.
After making sure you can walk without face-planting, they send you over to the kitchen where you dine on cookies and bread.
Why should you donate?
For certain treatments like chemotherapy, blood is required on a daily basis, whereas victims of accident may require up to 100 units of blood transfusion. Blood donation is literally a life-saver. Each pint of blood you donate can save up to three lives. That sounds like a pretty decent deal for six minutes of discomfort.
How can you donate?
Follow the link on the Canadian Blood Services website to set up your appointment, or stop in to the clinic at 85 Fitzroy Street.