Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Donate (a full bag of) blood: Done!

Over the past 10 years, I have tried to donate blood 3 times, but failed each time.

  • In high school, I never got past the initial eligibility questionnaire.
  • In college, I got to the point where I had a needle in my arm and the blood was flowing into the bag... until it was about a third full. The person collecting my blood noticed that my blood flow was slowing down. They have a tool that looks like a dull pair of scissors that they clamp and glide over the tubing to clear away blood inside the tubing to determine how fast the blood is flowing. After a swift glide with those "scissors", it was apparent that my blood was moving at 0 mph. A supervisor was called over. Then a number of other phlebotomists took turns nudging and wiggling the needle in my arm, to no avail. So that was failure #2.  
  • In grad school, there was a Yale vs. Harvard blood drive, and I was determined to do better. I drank loads of water for days in advance. (I will spare you details of how awesomely clear my bodily fluids were.) I was excited and pumped up. My friend PS came to donate too. I was thinking, "Ima forreal donate blood this time, and we're going to beat Harvard in this competition!"
    This time, I got to the point where they stuck a needle was in my arm.
    And that was as far as I got. Again, a supervisor was called over. Then a number of other phlebotomists took turns nudging and wiggling the needle in my arm, to no avail. No blood ever even passed through the needle. The dull scissor thingy was never necessary, because the tubing was as clear and see-through as my bodily fluids. I felt really bad that I wasted an entire blood bag kit. So that was failure #3.
    But that's not the end of that story... A couple weeks later, I got an email:

    Hi Thaibinh,
    Thanks for donating blood at the Harvard-Yale Challenge! Just wanted to let you know that you've won an iPod shuffle!

    Apparently by signing up to donate blood, I was entered into a contest for an iPod shuffle. My friend PS (who had legitimately donated a full pint of blood) was not amused.

At this point, I had pretty much given up on ever donating blood and saving lives. However, an opportunity came up a few weeks ago when ES (a regular donor) was about to call the Red Cross to make an appointment for his bi-monthly donation. I happened to be there and decided on a whim to give it one last try.
In preparation, I again drank bottles and bottles of water like a boss. The eligibility questionnaire went without a hitch, and soon my arm was being cleaned with an iodine swab. A slight pinch later, my blood was flowing into a bag. I checked with my phlebotomist every couple minutes to make sure blood was still flowing, because I was still skeptical about my ability to fill an entire bag. In the meantime, ES had finished donating his pint and took a picture of me in action:
Thumbs up everybody!

Eventually, I passed the threshold and became an official (full bag of) blood donor!!

Afterwards, while eating snacks and drinking apple juice, ES and I had a conversation with one of the organizers of the blood drive. I was really surprised to learn that our blood would most likely be used within 3-4 days; I had donated late afternoon on a Monday, and by Tuesday morning, my blood would already be tested, and registered in the blood bank. By Thursday or Friday, it would be used up. I guess I should take this opportunity to encourage everybody (who is able) to donate blood. You can't possibly fail more times than I did.
When I returned home later that day, I found out that despite all my failed attempts at donating blood, I have an online account with the American Red Cross. Although I have supposedly donated 3 times (not counting my most recent success), I still don't know my blood type:

I've been told to expect my donor card in the mail in the next several weeks, and I'm excited to finally find out what blood type I am! I'll update this once I find out!

[Edit:] I'm O+!

No comments:

Post a Comment