When I was asked to volunteer at Lifeblood, I did not really think of it as volunteering. I have donated blood a few times before and didn’t really think much about it. On my drive to the donation center, I thought about the rest of my week and what it means to be a volunteer. Taking time to help someone or an organization is what I have been doing all week, so taking time to volunteer (I was asked to do this, I chose this, not forced, not paid) to go to Lifeblood is volunteering.
Since I have donated blood before, I knew how to prepare myself and what to expect from the day. First, you want to eat a decent meal 30 minutes to an hour before you donate. Before you are able to donate blood the nurses check your veins, blood pressure, and prick your finger (probably my least favorite part, ouch!) to check iron levels. If you are good in all these areas, you go on to complete a short question portion on a computer. These questions include any medications you are on, if you have been out of the country, if you have gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last year, and some slightly more personal questions about drug use and sexual activity. All of these questions are essential to ensuring your donation will benefit a recipient, not harm them. If you answer appropriately, you can now donate blood.
Sorry if this is too graphic for some. I don’t know what it is, I can handle giving my patients injections, but when it comes to needles going in to my arm, I do not like it. I do not watch the needle at any point and ask to have it covered. I also do not like a countdown of any sort, it makes me more anxious. My wonderful nurse checked my veins again, cleaned the area, it was able to get the vein on the first try! Now, I just had to lay back and relax. But for those that are needle phobic, it is not as bad as the finger prick, just slightly uncomfortable for a second.
As I was donating blood, my nurse Karen shared some information about Lifeblood. Lifeblood is a regional center that supplies blood to all Baptist, Methodist, St.Francis, The Med (Regional Medical Center at Memphis), and Lebonheur hospitals. Memphis is in constant need of blood and platelets donations because The Med is the Midsouth’s only Level 1 trauma center. Memphis is also the nations second largest medical center per capita, so our hospitals are in constant need of blood. Lifeblood is the region’s only donation center and they are tackling a very large task. An interesting thing to note is at Lifeblood you can make donations in someone’s name who is having surgery. If you have surgery and your doctor suggests donating, you can donate your blood in advance to have available to you if needed.
Donor Fest is June 9-15. Lifeblood’s goal for Donor Fest is to have at least 1,900 donors, which can save thousands of lives. This events t-shirt says “HERO” on the back. I was slightly uncomfortable (and still kind of am) about wearing the t-shirt because I do not think of myself as a “hero”. However, I found out that my donation can save up to three lives! This has particular meaning to me because I have a friend whose sister recently underwent extensive surgery and is alive because of blood donations. To her family, all the people who donated are heroes.
And in case you are still on the fence, 45 minutes later I was still smiling after giving my donation.
And if you are still not convinced after donating you are encouraged to eat snacks and get a t-shirt.
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