Donating blood has appealed to me as a way to give back, as it doesn’t involve spending lots of time or money (which were basically non-existent in my life as a student working two part-time jobs). It takes about an hour and a little bit of pain, but can save someone’s life. One of my good friends needed a blood transfusion as a baby, so I find a lot of meaning in being able to donate blood.
I’ve donated blood numerous times through the Canadian Blood Services. You typically need an appointment if you are going to one of their donation centres, but they frequently have pop up clinics where you can just walk-in. They usually start the process with filling out a questionnaire detailing your health and travel history. Heads up: check online to see if you meet all of the requirements. You have to be in pretty good health and not have travelled to any areas where blood born viruses are common. The first time I tried to donate blood, I was turned away because of my trip to South America.
After you’ve answered the questionnaire, they will prick your finger to check your iron levels. After you’ve passed that, someone will bring you into a room to ask a few more questions and do some more health assessments, like take your temperature and your blood pressure. Then you’ll proceed to the donation area where you’ll be set up in a comfy chair until they’ve collected enough blood. It’s really not that painful; it feels kind of like someone is pinching your arm. They can usually cover the needle so you don’t have to look at it, which I think is the worst part. For health reasons, you can only have the needle in for about 15 minutes; after that they’ll take the needle out and discard the blood. If you want the process to go a bit easier, make sure you drink lots of water before your donation.
They like to monitor you for about 15-20 minutes after you’ve completed the donation to make sure you’re not going to pass out. They’ll give you lots of snacks and juice boxes to replenish yourself. Make sure to drink lots of water after your donation, as they’ve just taken 1/10th of your blood! Avoid drinking alcohol after your appointment, because apparently you can get drunk a lot faster with less blood diluting the alcohol.
I had no idea what my blood type was, but Canadian Blood Services sent me a card with blood type a few weeks after my first donation. I’m AB-, which is one of the rarest blood types!
You should definitely consider donating blood if you haven’t already. Let me know what your experience has been like with Canadian Blood Services!
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