Yesterday, I went in to donate blood.
It was my first chance to donate since the unfortunate experience I had in July. (You can read about this near death experience here.)
However, I don’t let one little brush with death keep me from the needles and the juice and cookies. Plus, at my last appointment I got the paperwork to join the bone marrow donor registry, and I had to give a sample and turn in said paperwork at this appointment.
I like the idea of being a bone marrow donor for many reasons. First, the odds of being called to donate (especially for a person of my ethnicity) are very, very small. In order to donate, you have to be the best possible match for someone out of thousands of other potential matches all over the country! Not to mention a better match than that person’s family. For that reason, donating bone marrow—to me—is a much more personal and profound way to save someone’s life. Not that donating blood isn’t important, but it’s more generalized. With bone marrow, I like the fact that if I’m meant to save a certain person’s life, then I will.
Anyway. I went in to the blood place to donate. It was only my second time donating at Bonfils in a long time because, you know, I was living abroad. And before that I was living in Boston and donating to the Red Cross instead. One time, back when I was in college, I was donating at Bonfils with my roommate when one of the nurses with a heavy accent asked me if I knew where my blood went when I donated.
“Um…no?” I said.
“To zee bebeez!” She informed me. She went on to say something about a virus that most people have that doesn’t allow them to give blood to premature babies (because of their compromised immune systems.) I wish her accent hadn’t been so thick so that I could have understood more. But what I did understand made me feel good, anyway.
No one ever mentioned that again so I kind of forgot about it. Then, yesterday, when I was back at Bonfils for my second donation since my hiatus, they asked me if I wanted my donation to go towards any group. I said no, not only because I couldn’t think of any particular group, but because I know that where I work we always prefer general donations [of money, not blood] so we can use them wherever they are most needed (not that we don’t appreciate donations towards specific projects, either.)
I wanted Bonfils to be able to use my blood wherever it was most needed. With that answer, the receptionist lady opened a drawer and pulled out a bright orange tag labeled “Baby Unit” and clipped it to my paperwork. The label was later taken from my paperwork and placed securely around my pint of collected blood.
That made me feel like a million bucks. Donating blood is a great thing, no matter what, but it really made me feel good to know that my particular donation was going to help a little baby. I can only imagine what it would be like to have a premature baby who needs a blood transfusion; I hope my CMV-negative A+ blood helps to bring peace to such a family.
I continued to feel really great during the evaluation when the nurse was impressed with my resting heart rate. She said, “Do you work out?” And I was all, “Oh, you know, I’m training for a trail half-marathon.” (Side note: How am I going to keep my fitness up in the winter? I already joined a gym, but it’s not quite the same as running 1.7 miles up a steep hill within your typical 6-10 mile run.)
Then she was impressed with my red blood cell count. The trick to this is that I’ve been taking (at my hairstylist’s recommendation) prenatal vitamins. The vitamins have a lot of iron in them. The nurse said she could tell even before she spun my blood that my blood was really red. Now, should I be worried about iron poisoning? I don’t think so. I was higher than the normal range for women, but still in the normal range for men. And, I was borderline anemic in Spain so I really feel like these vitamins have helped me get more energy and improved a few other anemic symptoms I had.
Also, I think it will be important to continue taking the vitamins as I head into some vegan adventures starting next week (October 4.) I’m going to try to be completely vegan at least until Thanksgiving. Then I will re-evaluate. I’ll likely post some meal plans and recipes for those who might be interested.
Long story short, I donated blood and I did not pass out or get dizzy (or lay in a stairwell in a skirt only to be rescued by two strangers.) I felt great about donating, great about my health, great about joining the bone marrow donor registry, and great about the free cookies and juice.
Blood donation gets two thumbs up!