If you have never donated blood before, your first time can be scary! At my high school, we had an annual blood drive every spring. I remember how mysterious it all was: The Red Cross vans full of blood outside, the blocked off gym doors, nurses roaming the halls. As a freshman, it was as mysterious to me as driver’s ed and prom. However, I knew it was something I really wanted to do once I turned 17, the minimum age to give blood. I can proudly say I have given blood quite a few times since becoming eligible. Why should you care about my blood donor record? Well, there is a blood drive happening at Clark on Thursday, September 28th from 2-8 PM in Tilton Hall, UC. I know how unsettling it can be the first time you give blood, so here is my guide to becoming a blood donor!
1. Make an Appointment and Do Rapid Pass!
You can make an appointment for the blood drive a few different ways. Usually there is a table set up in the UC during lunch and/or dinner where people can sign up. Alternatively, you can also sign up on the Red Cross website. They do take walk-ins for the drive, but I always have found it easier to make an appointment ahead of time. I also recommend doing a RapidPass the day of the drive. If you elect to fill out the RapidPass, you cut down on the amount of time you spend waiting in Tilton, because you do your pre-screening questions at home.
2. Drink Lots of Water
This is very important! Drinking water makes it easier for them to take your blood and it makes you feel a lot better afterwards! At least try to double your water consumption before giving blood! I barely ever drink any water so I try to make an extra effort at this!
3. Bring your ID!
This is very important. You need to bring some kind of legal ID with you when you give blood. A license, identification card, passport, etc. will all work. They will not let you give blood without your ID.
4. Listen and Ask Questions
If you’re a first-time donor, everyone knows it! Not because you look confused, but because they give you a green Red Cross donor sticker your first time. The people working with you will know it’s your first time and usually try to explain things. As you’re getting your iron and blood pressure checked, doing your general questions, and getting on the donation bed, they will always be available if you have questions. During this time, you may get turned away if you don’t weigh enough, your iron is too low, etc. so if that happens do not feel bad! They are turning you away for your own safety.
5. Stay Relaxed
Once you get on the bed and they ask you to squeeze a stress ball, stay calm. They are just looking for your “best” vein. They want to choose a place that will be the easiest for you and them. Once the needle is in (it doesn’t even hurt!) you just lay there. They keep an eye on you and once you’re done, you’re done!
6. Eat! Drink!
Once you finished giving blood and the needle is gone, they direct you to a table full of snacks and water. Make sure to stay and eat something. I have a tendency to want to sprint out of there. It’s a bad idea trust me. Your body needs to recuperate after losing blood. Enjoy the free snacks and grab a water!
Giving blood does seem scary but the professionals from the Red Cross make it easier! Just follow these tips and their instructions and it will be okay! Disasters and accidents are happening everywhere all the time. There are people out there that really benefit from blood donations. Please consider donating! You can save up to three lives.