Approximately every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood.
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:
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:
They ask you to squeeze a ball or balled up towel to get the blood flowing.
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!
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!
I came home and did a little jig of happiness! What a high I felt.
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! :)
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
Coming up: My 10 in 2010… I will also be telling you what life changing experience I signed up for!