Today, I gave blood for the first time in my life. I have, in the past, vaguely thought that it would be a good pay it forward thing to do sometime, but there has always been some other occupation of the moment that has distracted me from actually doing it.
I had done some internet research a few days ago, so I had an idea of what to expect when I showed up at the bloodmobile. The physical part was much briefer than I thought it might be ... just hemoglobin count, blood pressure, and temperature. Most of the prep time was spent answering a long list of questions ... some that were no surprise "have you ever tested positive for AIDS/HIV?" and some that I didn't expect -- I had to give the dates of my trip to England last fall, for example. The physical layout of the bloodmobile definitely used ALL space available; I felt a bit sorry for the workers who were dancing (in one case literally) around each other as they moved from the front to the back.
Emily, who drew my blood, was great at helping me through the process as a first-timer - telling me what she was doing, when I might like to look away, and covering the needle sticking into my arm while the blood was flowing out. I could tell that I was nervous ... my blood pressure must have been up because the bag filled swiftly taking less than five minutes when the average fill time ranges from six to ten minutes. I had expected to feel light-headed at the end, but really felt fine (and slightly relived that I was done) as I drank my orange juice. And, tonight, I have a purple bandage wrap and three ink dots on my arm as trophies from my experience.
If, like me, you've thought about giving blood, but have never taken the time to make it happen, I'd urge you to try it once. The statistics on the donor site say that one donation can save three lives. I've never needed blood, but I have had some people that I'm close to take advantage of blood donations. I can't say that it was the most fun thing I've done in my life, but the people working there were very kind and professional, and it certainly feels good to be the one who might make a difference in a family's lives.