Giving Back During The Holiday Season

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on December 22, 2009

Approximately every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood.

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Yup, I finally passed the hemoglobin test and was able to successfully donate blood today! :D :D :D :D

Note: If you don’t like blood you may not like some of the pictures below.

Just so you understand fully how much this means to me, let me explain…

I used to work at Canadian Blood Services.

In fact, I paid my way through my undergraduate university career by working 25 hours a week for 3 years at CBS while I was in school. It was a great place to work and I got to meet a ton of inspiring people during my time there.

However, there was always one problem….

I always failed the hemoglobin (iron) test!

Your hemoglobin levels must be high enough to donate blood or you are turned away. During my time at CBS, I was tested countless times and turned away each time as my hemoglobin failed to be higher than 12.5.

I knew deep down that the reason I was failing my tests was because of my poor diet. I didn’t give my body the proper nutrients it needed. I starved myself. I ate nutrient void foods.

I felt a void inside when I could not donate blood, but it took several years for me to finally get on my road to health.

In the past couple years, my diet has changed dramatically. Not only did I go from vegetarian to vegan, but I started being aware of the nutrients and amounts I was getting. Early in 2009, my doctor tested my blood and told me that my iron levels were great. Further tests this summer revealed the same.

I knew it was time to get back on the horse!

Today, I called up Canadian Blood Services and I made an appointment. Having worked there before, I am especially aware of how much blood is in need during the holiday season. The donation rates are often really low because people are traveling and busy doing other things.

I admit, I was a nervous wreck driving to the clinic.

What if I didn’t pass? What if I couldn’t give blood? I wondered.

I made sure to drink a lot of water and eat a big lunch right before I left. Water helps the blood flow and food helps with recovery and prevents dizziness and nausea.

I was anxious, anxious, anxious.

Then, the moment of truth:

I PASSED!

THANK YOU GREEN MONSTERS WITH COOKED SPINACH!!!!!!!!! ;)

I had a HUGE grin on my face that could not be removed! I was going to donate blood- that is, as long as I passed the series of questions…

After answering questions in a booth, and then more with a nurse, it was time to donate. I had the sweetest clinician attending to me. I told her how I was vegan and I was so happy I passed the test. She asked me a ton of questions about veganism and the time just flew by. It was only about 15 minutes for the actual donation part!

Notice that you don’t even ‘see’ the needle! It was covered up:

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They ask you to squeeze a ball or balled up towel to get the blood flowing.

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The whole process was painless! It takes 15 mins to donate 450 ml of blood (1/2 pint).

There is a tiny prick when the needle goes in but it was nothing. I barely knew I was giving blood!

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Afterward, they ask you to put pressure on the entry point and stay on the chair for 5 minutes (10 mins for 1st timers).

Easy as pie!

A couple FAQ’s:

How long does it take to replace the whole blood taken during donation?

The plasma portion of a donation is replaced within hours, the platelet portion within days and red blood cells in about 56 days. This is why blood donors cannot give more often than once every 56 days.

How long after donating blood should a donor avoid strenuous activity?

Donors should avoid strenuous activity for about 6-8 hours after donating blood.

The whole process, start to finish, took about 60 minutes, but that was mostly because I stayed and gabbed away at the refreshment table for 15 mins. :) Met some lovely people!

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I came home and did a little jig of happiness! What a high I felt.

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I concluded that donating blood is very similar to running in a race:

  • You need to pre-fuel (Lots of water and food beforehand!)
  • Lay off the booze…completely ;)
  • You will urgently have to pee right before you begin
  • Your heart will race
  • You will tear up (on my drive home- what a sap!)
  • You will grin uncontrollably when it is over
  • You totally get to veg out the rest of the day- you need to rest!!
  • You will have to urgently pee immediately afterwards
  • You will consume lots of food and drink afterwards
  • You will eat dark chocolate in massive quantities because you deserve it (oops!)
  • You will wear your favourite shoes (note stilettos above!)

It may not seem like much to regular blood donors, but for me today was huge. I have been waiting for so long to do this, and to be able to do it is just an amazing feeling.

I always picture myself in someone else’s shoes and imagine if it was ME who needed the blood. It is such an easy thing to do, but it saves lives.

You can be sure I will be donating every 56 days from now on! :)

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Have you ever donated blood before? Were you ever rejected because of low hemoglobin levels?

Would you try out blood donation?

Do you know your blood type?

For those of you looking for a way to make a difference I encourage you to consider donating blood. Obviously it isn’t for everyone due to religion, personal beliefs, or health conditions, but for those of you who can and would like to, I say give it a shot. It is SO easy, painless, and yes…FUN. I really had a fun time and I met some cool people. It was like a social hour…just without the cocktails! ;)

Also, a tip for women: If you have problems being rejected due to low iron don’t try to donate when you are menstruating or immediately after. Wait until the 3rd week of your cycle if you can.

I don’t know my blood type, but I will when my donor card arrives in the mail.

Still nervous? Watch this video showing you the entire process from start to finish!

Canadians: You can find a clinic near you by clicking here.

Americans: Click here for more info.

Brits: Click here for more info.

Off to make a big dinner! hehe

Angela_Signature

Coming up: My 10 in 2010… I will also be telling you what life changing experience I signed up for!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

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rungirlrunn December 23, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Congrats on getting your iron levels up!! That speaks volumes for your diet :) And I think giving blood is just absolutely fantastic–you have no idea how many people can be dramatically helped by you taking the time out of your day to donate!!!

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Michelle December 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I’m so proud of you! I give blood every 60 days, although I have to wait six months since I pierced my nose. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to give blood, it’s so quick, and you never know who you could be helping!!!

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Cindy December 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Congrats Angela! it’s a great thing for sure and a great feeling to contribute! I went thru a few years where our blood drive folks asked me to stop trying. I have low bp and at the time had low iron…I had a very hard time recovering but now…esp after the baby…I must be eating much better becasue my bp is still very low but A+ on the iron and everything esle. I love getting the stats on your cholesterol. I am dontating again in January but as tired as I’ve been I need to pay great attention to my blood iron and make sure it’s all good so I still can!

I am AB+!

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Jenny December 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Wow that’s so great Angela! Congrats on being so healthy, and being able to contribute to the health of others :)

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Emily December 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Vegan and healthier than ever! good for you ange!!

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Ariel December 24, 2009 at 12:59 am

This is awesome! I can’t give blood because I’m anemic and on freaky medications that make my blood kinda crappy… but if I’m ever healthy again it’s definitely something I would like to do. I’m great at getting needles now!

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Amanda December 24, 2009 at 3:54 am

Good for you! I donated platelets for a while… it’s quite different. lol

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Lisa December 24, 2009 at 6:24 am

Congrats Angela!
So funny to read this as I gave blood yesterday evening for only the second time. Such a good feeling! I’m a little woozy this morning but I may have by accident had a couple of festive drinks last night. Baileys doesn’t really have alcohol does it?:) Its practically a health drink;)
Here in Ireland the cut off for Hb is 12.5 so I’m getting away with it at the moment. This is quite high for me as mine usually hovers around 10 or 11.
Please remember to mention donating to friends because you never know! Yesterday I told our secretary that I was going to donate after work and he decided to donate for the first time. Then he mentioned it to a co-worker who didn’t have transport to the centre and she came with us so that was 2 extra donations just by word of mouth!

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Katie December 25, 2009 at 1:09 am

I haven’t given blood in such a long time, and I use to do it all the time in college. Thanks for the reminder!

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Eliana >^..^ December 25, 2009 at 3:17 pm

I love to donate blood and try to do it every 2 months. The last time I went I was rejected due to low iron. I am hoping that with all the green monsters I have been taking I get to donate soon. :O)

So glad you got to do it, it feels SOOOOO good to help others.

Hugs

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Fei Fei December 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Congrats on your first blood donation! It’s truely a wonderful feeling giving such a physical aspect of yourself back to the community. I remember being so happy after my first donation as well. Previously, I kept on getting turned away due to the places I traveled to (they make you wait around a year! D: ) So this fall, after finally staying put for the summer, I was given the ok to give blood. I remember walking into the clinic around lunch time (several hours after eating breakfast and not eaten lunch yet) and being told that my blood pressure was too low! Ack! I thought I was going to get turned away again, but luckily, they told me to eat/drink at their provided snack area (originally intended for resting AFTER donating blood) before donating my blood. So I actually spent 30 min eating and 10 min actually donating blood. lol! Then a few weeks later, I got my blood donor card with my name and blood type printed clearly on it (I’m type B rh positive). I remember being as proud as a peacock and flashing the card to all my (rather bemused) friends. haha :D Hope you’re excitedly waiting for yours as well!

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mmclaughlin December 28, 2009 at 5:27 pm

All through college I tried to give blood, but I was always rejected for low iron counts. I stopped eating red meat, poultry, pork, etc…when I was 13 (I still eat eggs and seafood), but instead of replacing the meat I wasn’t eating with something else, I just kind of skipped protein altogether – expcept for what I might happen to get through the other random foods I was eating. After college I started paying more attention and focusing on getting enough protein. I’ve been giving blood every 3 months for the last 2 and a half years! I’m lucky that my company hosts a blood drive every 3 months (as soon as we’re eligible again), so I go down to the lobby on my lunch break to give blood.

Also, My blood type is A Positive. And so is my husband’s and every single person in both of our immediate families (including my parents, step-parents and half-siblings). Knowing that makes it very personal when I give blood. Because I know that if anything were to happen to them, I am contributing to the blood supply that could save them.

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Marianne January 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I’ve never given blood – mostly because I’ve never been able too . If you’ve been pierced/tattooed within a certain time frame, you aren’t eligible. Plus, every time I’ve ever had blood tests, and they only take a few small vials, I almost always pass out (not because I’m afraid of seeing blood/needles, but just from the whole taking of the blood). I know I would be a good donor (O negative blood type – the universal donor), but it’s not something I think I could do. I’d rather be an organ donor.

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