I have started donating blood way back 2006 while I was still a pharmacy student at UP Manila. It was 2004 when I got sick with dengue and typhoid fever. I got 3 other complications and it was so severe that I needed a plasma transfusion. I stayed 10 days in the hospital and I had to take a leave of absence from the university for 1 year so I could rest and recuperate. Obviously, I survived it all. So for me, donating blood is a way of giving back as well as paying it forward.
Last June 20, Sibol PH had a blood drive called “Pump 8” for the benefit of the Pediatric ward of the Philippine General Hospital.
Trivia: Do you know that a pint of blood can save 3 lives?
When I read this announcement on Facebook and saw that it falls on the same day as my appointment at UP College of Dentistry, I decided to give it a shot. I actually visited their booth at 10am but the PGH team hasn’t arrived yet. So I went back around 11:30am. There were still only a few donors at that time.
So I went to their booth and signified my interest to donate. Of course, I am not new to the process.
1. Register and fill up a form. The form is from the PGH Blood Bank with questions about your medical history to ensure that you are in good health.
2. A doctor will check your vital stats such as height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, etc. This is called physical examination.
3. Another doctor / medical technician will check your hemoglobin. All these are made to ensure that you are healthy and fit to donate.
4. Lie down on a cot or a reclined seat and a medical technician will first clean the area surrounding the site where they will insert the needle with alcohol and povidone iodine. Then they will slowly insert a needle that draws out blood from you until the blood pack is full. After that, they will slowly remove the needle and you have to press on the extraction site with a cotton to facilitate clotting.
5. Rest for 5 to 10 minutes before standing up.
For adults, the amount that they get is 450cc. But back then, when I was still several pounds lighter, they only get 250cc from me. Since I’ve been dying to donate blood, I was so thankful when the doctor noted that my BP was 100/60.
After resting, I stood up and started to go. The organization members thanked me and gave me a button pin and snacks consisting of Lemon Square Cheesecake (my fave!) and orange juice. I drank the orange juice immediately since I was so thirsty and I needed to replace lost fluids. Wasn’t hungry so I gave the cheesecake to my sister. LOL
So that’s how a blood donation usually goes. 🙂 If you want to read a detailed step-by-step of the donation process, click here.
Honestly, I was supposed to donate blood before this event to a friend’s aunt (Blood type O+). Since I was B+, my blood would only be used as a replacement. However, the hospital there didn’t allow me to donate since my blood pressure was very low (90/60). Mind you, I was feeling particularly well that day. I got 10 hours of sleep and I ate a lot before I went to the blood bank. It was just my normal blood pressure. Sadly, her aunt died. May her soul rest in peace.
So you see, donating blood can save lives. That’s why I encourage people to do so. PROPharm, an organization in UP College of Pharmacy where I am now an alumni member, also conducts blood drives twice a year.
Here are some things you need to know about blood donation:
Getting Ready to Donate
- Drink plenty of fluids on the day of your donation.
- Exercising like running and weight lifting, drinking coffee and eating heavy meals 3 to 5 hours before the donation process is not recommended. These activities increases the person’s blood pressure that may reject the person to be eligible to be a donor.
- Wear clothing with sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbows.
- Maintain a Healthy Level of Iron in Your Diet Before Donating. If possible, include iron-rich foods in your diet, especially in the weeks before your donation.
- Bring a List of Medications You Are Taking. We will need to know about any prescription and/or over the counter medications that may be in your system.
- Bring an ID.Please bring either your donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of identification.
- Bring a Friend. Bring along a friend, so that you may both enjoy the benefits of giving blood.
- Relax! Blood donation is a simple and very safe procedure so there is nothing to worry about.
- You need to be at least 18 years old and 110 pounds. If you are below 18 years old, you will need the consent of your parents or guardian.
- Your blood pressure must be normal (<120/<80).
- Your finger will be pricked with a needle and blood will be extracted using a capillary stick. Blood will then be dropped in a solution of copper sulfate. If the drop of blood sinks, then you are suitable to donate.
- A series of tests will be taken to initially screen if you are qualified to donate blood.
- Tests are also done to make sure that it would be safe for you to donate blood.
After the Donation
- After donating, Wait 20 more minutes before you leave the blood donating facility to adjust to your current state.
- Hydrate More. You should continue to drink water throughout the day of your donation.
- Exercising, running and weight lifting is not allowed within 24 hours.
- Blood will undergo other screening processes after extraction. The process for detecting diseases and other harmful chemical in the blood takes 2 days.
- If it’s your first time to donate, you will be given a donor card which serves as a record of your donations at the blood bank.
- If your donation is not intended for a particular patient, the hospital will put you on a priority list for six months. This allows you, your family, or any friend or acquaintance to use the blood that you donated, if ever needed.
- You may donate blood every 56 days.
- Donating blood to Red Cross will give you a lifetime priority card.
- Donating takes only around 30 minutes.
- Donors can have their blood drawn for their own future use (autologous donation).
- Donating is relatively safe, but some donors have bruising where the needle is inserted or may feel faint.
Here’s a sample of the questions in the form that you have to fill up before being allowed to donate. Questions are answerable by YES or NO. Questions vary per blood bank.
1. Do you currently have regular coughs and sometimes gets short in breathing?
2. Have you ever had any kidney problems, yellowing of the skin or had hepatitis?
a. Have you been injected with steroids without any doctor’s consent?
b. Had sex with a person who had been injected with steroids or any medications?
3. Do you bleed too much when you get small cuts or minor injuries?
4. Had experienced having sex with a prostitute.
5. Had experienced having sex with someone who has AIDS.
6. (If male) had experienced had sex with another man?
7. (If female) Had sex with a man who have had sex with other men.
8. Had sex with a person with Hemophilia or a person who had been transferred blood into before.
9. Have AIDS or any AIDS related disease?
10. Have had an unexplainable fever, drastic weight loss, shortness of breath, gets cold chills at night and regularly lose weight.
11. Has a cut inside the mouth that is color white.
12. Had lived or had been assigned to work at Haiti, Africa or had went to any places near Africa for whatever reasons.
13. Had recently felt chest pains, heart problems or had ever been operated in the heart.
14. Had any illness in the lungs, had asthma or tuberculosis.
15. Had experience convulsions, paralysis or numbness of any body part or had ever loss consciousness.
16. Have any form of Cancer.
17. Had any skin problems, diseases or Psoriasis.
18. Had experienced blood transfusion from a needle.
In the last 12 months..
19. Have you gotten sick from Malaria or had taken any medicine against malaria?
In the last 1 year..
20. Had you taken any rabies shots (Anti-rabies vaccine)?
21. Had/have a complicated condition or disease that needed you to have a life threatening operation?
22. Had contracted or is still taking medication for curing Syphilis, Gonorrhea or any diseases for women?
23. Lives with a person who has Hepatitis.
24. Had recently gave birth or is currently pregnant.
25. Had been injected of vaccines for Hepatitis or any Vaccines recently
In the past 3 months..
26. Have you donated blood or any type of blood cells?
In the past 4 weeks..
27. Have you taken any vaccines for mumps and measles? (beke at tigdas)
In the past 3 days..
28. Have you had a dental check-up?
29. Had taken any prohibited drugs or any type of medicine?
30. Had drank any type of alcoholic beverages?
At the moment
31. Have any infections? Flu, fever or body pains?
32. Had drank any alcoholic beverages and is under the influence or alcohol or drugs?
33. Have menstrual period or is pregnant?
34. Do you understand all the questions asked in this questionnaire?
35. Do you want to donate blood for other patients to use?
I hope that you have learned a lot about blood donation after reading this. I also hope that this post encouraged you to donate blood and save lives.
We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. ~ Herman Melville
♥ Monique ♥