This bucket list item was completed on 28th January 2010 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
This was the second item that I complete on my list and did so only four weeks after my first item #86 Go for a Polar Bear Swim. My friend Candice was going to the same university as myself and was studying to become a nurse. She had never donated blood either but was keen to do it as well. Candice gave me the push to do this one immediately.
After our classes on 28th January, Candice and I met up and went to the Canadian Blood Services location in downtown Halifax. Upon arriving we went to registration and were handed several forms. The questionnaire we had to complete was very detailed. There were over 60 questions to answer in the following sections: Wellness today, drugs and vaccines, general medical, travel and lifestyle. Some of them were very specific such as, have you spent a total of 3 months or more in France from January 1, 1980 through December 31, 1996?
The lifestyle questions are very personal such as asking about cocaine use within the last 12 months. These questions are designed to filter out people who are not suitable to donate blood. Even if a person were to lie about some of the personal questions, all blood is tested before it is placed into the blood banks to ensure unsuitable blood is not stored.
After completing the questionnaire we were directed to a nurse to do a few tests. The basic tests include a check of body temperature, blood pressure and pulse. They also tested a small sample of our blood for haemoglobin and iron content by pricking our fingers and dropping the blood into a tube of water. If the blood sinks then you pass. I was really nervous when it came to this test. What if my blood didn’t sink? What if I wasn’t able to donate? I’m not sure why I was so nervous about this. Perhaps I was treating it like one of my university tests.
When the nurse tested my blood, it sank. Done. No need to stress anymore.
Unfortunately, Candice did not make it through the tests. Candice was very active and due to all her exercise she had a low pulse and low blood pressure, below the limits that would allow her to donate. Candice was quite disappointed because it was something she really wanted to do to help out others. I felt bad for her as well.
After I received the all clear, I was directed over to a cool red recliner, where I would donate my blood. The nurse tapped my arm a few times to find a vein and then inserted the needle. I watched as she did it and cringed slightly.
Once I was hooked up and the blood was flowing, all I had to do was wait. They collect about 450 ml of blood and the length of time to donate this amount depends on each person’s blood pressure. It took me about 10 minutes to complete the collection, which is standard. While I was sitting in my fancy chair, I asked one of the nurses to take a picture of me. He was happy to do so and actually got into it by bending his knees and positioning his body like a professional photographer to get the perfect photo.
After my donation was complete they sat me at a little table and gave me juice and a few biscuits. I felt like a little kid at primary school. It was great though, the biscuits were delicious.
It felt rewarding to donate blood and this was reinforced by the nurses who constantly thanked us for coming in that day. They see what happens in hospitals, which most people wouldn’t, so they are happy every time someone comes in to donate. I continued to go back and donated blood multiple times after my initial visit. Each time they thanked me for helping out.
The whole experience was a successful one and I was able to complete another item from my list.
Have you donated blood before? Let me know in the comments below.
Make sure to read my next post [#9 Lesson] It Feels Good to Help Others, which discusses the lesson learned by completing this item.
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Dave has been on a mission, since 2010, to cross off the 100 items on his bucket list. The stories of his adventures are complimented by life lessons learned along the way and his travel tips are unique to his experiences.