30 June 2013

Donating blood

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I donated blood for the first time ever this week. I found out that June was national blood donor month over here, so it was a very appropriate time for me to start. According to the Blood Buzz newsletter, 75% of Western Cape inhabitants might need a blood transfusion during their lifetimes, but only 1.5% of the population in this region donate blood.

It only takes about 30 minutes and will make such a big difference. Blood cannot be manufactured artificially, so they rely on donors. When you arrive, you'll fill in a form about your medical history to make sure your blood is safe. Then your blood pressure and iron levels will be tested before you can go ahead. The needle didn't hurt as much as I was expecting and I couldn't even feel it after the first minute. I did realise that I was feeling weaker after a few minutes and my arm felt numb, but it's different for everyone.

Some blood donation facts

  • The waiting period between donations is 56 days
  • Approximately 475ml of blood is drawn per donation
  • The blood volume will be replenished within 24 hours
  • Red blood cells will be replaced by the bone marrow within 3-4 days
  • The lost iron will be replaced after 6-8 weeks 
  • Red cells can be stored up to 42 days

I received this carrier bag because it was my first time there. Everyone received the newsletter with air freshener. When you're finished you can choose between coffee, tea and juice to rehydrate and a cookie to raise your blood sugar levels.

The reason I decided to do this post is because I had a pretty strange experience, I started crying. I felt very weak and vulnerable and the next thing I knew, I burst into tears. It's so strange to think about it now, I've cried because I felt the same way emotionally, but never physically. Luckily Martinus had finished a few minutes before me and he was standing with me by then. Everyone was so nice to me. They removed the needle right away and brought me an energy drink and a tissue.

They assured me that it will get better each time and I plan on going back in two months. Do you donate blood? Have you had any strange experiences?


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