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[help] Giving Blood: Not as Scary as You Think

30 June 2010 by Dani Stone 18 Comments

red crossWhen Jennifer Keller, Communications Manager for the American Red Cross, contacted verb [ICT] about doing a story on giving blood, I didn’t exactly jump at the chance to participate. Like many people, I have my own reasons for not donating. Until today, the most significant reason was that I have tiny veins and I’m hard to get blood from. Even my sister, who happens to be a phlebotomist at the American Red Cross, couldn’t convince me. Like many people, I just didn’t have all the facts.

Because the Red Cross adheres to strict standards regarding who can give, only 38% of the population is eligible. Of that percentage, only a small amount have actually ever given. I didn’t know that tidbit of information when I volunteered to donate. I just thought it was a great cause and would be an interesting experience.

Before donating, I spoke to Collections Manager Laquita Ireland. She said that during the winter months, people are more apt to donate because they feel charitable. In the summer, they get busy and simply forget, even though the need for blood is always there. That’s why the Wichita chapter holds its Zoo Blood Drive each summer.

Finally, the time had come for me to donate. No more stalling. Time to muster all my courage and march my tiny veins in to the donor room. I was feeling a little nervous until the sweetest volunteer I’ve ever met, Ellen Riggs, greeted me. Ellen has been with the American Red Cross holding various positions for over 30 years. She’s so kind and supportive, it’s like having your Nana with you when you donate. Once I read through the preliminary literature and assured Ellen I was confident I met the requirements, I was on my way.

My sister wasn’t available on this particular day, but I was still able to request a particular phlebotomist, Dana, and you can too. Dana took me in to a private room, entered information from my driver’s license, performed a mini health exam consisting of checking basic vital signs, and tested a drop of blood from my fingertip to check my iron count. Once I was cleared for the next level, I was left alone to answer a series of health history questions. Some of the questions are very personal and a few made me giggle, but they’re simply safeguards to make sure you meet all the criteria for donation.

Once Dana gave me a gold star on my health history questionnaire, she guided me to an oversized chair and examined my puny veins. Though she admitted they were “quite tiny,” on the second try she was able to snag an elusive vein. After a quick “pinch” of the needle, I was chatting away while my blood flowed in to the bag. A mere six minutes later, I had donated my pint and the needle was removed. Dana said most donations take about 10 minutes.

A few minutes later, after asking me how I felt and making sure I was able to walk, I was sitting in the Recovery Area happily munching on Nutter Butter cookies and drinking water. I still can’t believe something I feared most of my life took a mere six minutes to conquer. Those six minutes may have saved someone’s life.

As if saving a life isn’t incentive enough to give blood, this weekend the American Red Cross is kicking it up a notch with the Red White & You Community Blood Drive at the Wichita Sedgwick County Zoo. Come to the Zoo between Thursday and Saturday, donate blood and the Red Cross will reward you with a commemorative T-shirt, ticket for free admission and $4.00 entry per person to the Zoo for immediate family members. Discount tickets may be used through July 5. For more information, visit the American Red Cross website.

(Image Credit)

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  • Kelly said:

    Look at you, Dani! Conquering your blood donating fear AND sushi fear all in the same month. Well played!

    I think the trick to donating blood is finding the right person to take the blood. I’ve had mostly great experiences, but my one bad experience still haunts me every time I sit in that chair.

    For the record, I could barely read this article because of the picture. It kept making me cringe and making my arm ache. :-)

  • Lucy said:

    I am very proud of you for donating! :) I am still sad I wasn’t there to take special good care of you though.

  • Dani M. Stone said:

    Lucy – You’ll be happy to know I was so impressed with the Red Cross facility and so pleased with my experience that I’ll be back again in. . . 57 days to donate again. You can torture me then. ;)

  • Steph-honey said:

    Good job! “Tiny veins” are more common than you think, and an experienced phlebotomist shouldn’t have any trouble with them. You did a great job with this article, too-makes me glad I had to bow out from it! Great writing Dani!

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