A bloody new experience with Red Cross

BY JACOB WARING 

Jacob Waring donating blood like a champ!

I wiped the sweat from my brow, my hands shook as I reached for a pen and I filled out the application to sign up to donate my blood to the American Red Cross. The form asked for my personal and general information. One of the volunteers handed me a spiral notebook that had relevant information I needed to be aware of before donating.

There were four people ahead of me, I sat twiddling my thumbs frantically and I stared out the window at that beautiful October sky. It was going to be my first experience donating blood and I was beyond nervous. I imagined the needle slithering inside my veins. Sucking the blood out of my arm, my sanity catastrophically spiraling out control. I am clearly ignorant of the whole process and the blood drive bus morphed into this daunting vampiristic beast that lay before me.

One of the Red Cross doctors strode into the East Campus lobby. He guided me and the other students to the bus to go to the next step of the process, which was a mini-physical and questions of your health history. I boarded the bus, and stood as I wait for a seat to be available to wait my turn. I was amazed at how the bus was run like a production line in a factory that happened to be sterilized and provide free orange juice at the end.

Students would be guided to a room to keep the discussion of their medical history a private matter. If they passed both the mini-physical and questionnaire then they are guided to a bed to lie comfortably as they donate blood.  As one student finishes donating blood then another takes their place. The group I entired the bus with was dwindling. I would be the last to donate.

One young lady gloomily told her friends that her iron count was too low to be able to donate. That oddly made me feel better as her deferment meant they are not being lax about who is able to give blood.  After seeing one student after another donate blood and witnessing the professionalism of the staff, all of my worries about donating blood were terminated.

At last, I was the sole remaining student left and they ushered me into a room. One of the medical personnel checked my temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin (iron) level. As the medical personnel was checking my vital signs, I jokingly asked that they could not have blind faith with people being truthful about their medical histories.

The individual confirmed that that the Red Cross does check the donations for infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses, syphilis as a way to assure the safety of everyone involved with handing, distributing and receiving the donations. I was left alone to answer my questionnaire to further confirm my eligibility to donate.

Questions ranged from sex, illness and whether I have been to different countries recently. The questions were rigorously designed to screen out those whom were not eligible to donate. I clicked finished and was escorted to my bed to have my turn to donate.

They cleansed the area of my arm to assure any problematic bacteria or germs do not decide to wreck havoc on my body. They opened a package that contained a new needle and inserted the needle into my vein. The sensation was not more painful than say a flu shot and they quickly began to draw blood from me. They handed me a stress ball to keep circulation going in my right hand and arm as I endure the ten minutes it takes to fill a bag with one pint of my own blood.

It felt… weird feeling blood being gently drawn from my arm. It was like someone poked a straw into my arm and was sucking me up like I was a Capri Sun juice bag. It was not painful or unnerving, but the sensation was weird. 10 minutes later they bandaged my arm and sort of raided their refrigerator for cans of orange juice.

Overall, the experience was delightful, painless and left me feeling a sense of charitable happiness. My blood, the very substance of my being that keeps me alive could possible save someone else. I could unknowingly be making an impact in someone’s quality of life.

This was and if continued in the future, is a wondrous way for the NCC community to give back to the world. This was a great way for students to better their community and get involved. It is an experience everyone should experience at least once in their lives. As author Seyi Ayoola once said, “Life isn’t just about the duration you spend, but by the donation of impact you can pass out before you eventually pass-out.”

Photo by Jacob Waring

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