NSPE’s Every Drop Counts: My First Time Donating Blood

On a sunny day like any other at el Colegio, I was standing under a tarp waiting to donate my blood. I had previously seen the blood donation bus in front of the Nursing building and around campus, but I never had the courage to donate; yet this time I put fears aside for others. Last Thursday, September 15th, when the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) had a blood drive in front of the nursing building I decided to do what was right.

This blood drive was being collected by Banco de Sangre de Sevicios Mutuos; each pint donated would help an average of four patients.  The requirements for donating blood were few and easy to fulfill: being over 18 (or otherwise having parental authorization), presenting an official state-issued ID, being well fed and hydrated, not having tattoos or piercings less than year old, and in the case of being diabetic or having hypertensive conditions, to have them under control. During their previous collection back in 2014, NSPE succesfully collected about fifty donations and thankfully this year was no different. The organizers of this event, Isamar Aleman and Luis Benitez, welcomed more than a hundred people, registered  sixty-two donors and had forty-seven productive donations. I am honored to be one of those able to donate blood for others, though the experience was slightly different from what I expected.

    The truck where all the magic happened!

    Upon arrival, you sign your name on a list and wait to be evaluated. Your health must reach certain parameters to ensure your blood is healthy and will be well-received by the patients in need.

    Above are the blood donation parameters and my results

    Then followed an evaluation and interview about your personal health habits. They were basic questions such as if you have been hospitalized recently, or if you got a tattoo or piercing this year, and so on. The purpose of these questions is to ensure that your blood is 100% perfect for a patient that needs it. After the evaluation comes the fun part: actually donating your blood.

    This is me having a pint of my blood drained; I was actually very excited!

It looks more painful than it actually is. Although it is an 18-gauge needle, you don’t actually feel more discomfort than you would with any other needle. For those who don’t know, like I didn’t, the smaller the number, the bigger the needle; this my friends was a big, big needle. I had heard that once the needle is inside you it actually bothers a little, yet to my surprise it didn’t. I expected to be there a while, considering that in the past I had been told I had very thin veins and had always used a butterfly needle. As it turns out, my pint of blood was filled in about ten minutes, which is considered a perfectly average amount of time.

This experience really gave me a new perspective on how sometimes what you take for granted is indispensable for someone in need. Having blood coursing through our veins is something so customary that we don’t realize that it can literally save somoene else's life. Every month this semester a different association on campus will bring the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital's blood bank bus to campus for a donation drive, so don’t miss your chance to donate blood!