Day #15: Give Blood with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center

I’ve never given blood before.

The last five years, I’ve either been pregnant or breastfeeding so I’ve deferred. Even so, I know that part of my hesitation has been fear of the unknown. Was it safe? Would it hurt? Would I get lightheaded? Would I feel strange afterward? Would I even “qualify”?

This morning, I googled “blood drive Canyon Lake Texas” and immediately found one happening at an Ace Hardware just down the road. All four of us jumped in the truck and drove there in under 5 minutes. Then, we all climbed aboard the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center mobile bus.

Tim went first (He’s given blood several times before). I went afterward. The bus was FREEZING (a cold room helps to prevent donors from getting lightheaded), but the process was quick, painless, and quite sanitary. For the record, I didn’t feel lightheaded at all – before, during, or after.

As the phlebotomist unhooked the tubing and handed me a snack and a gatorade, he said, “You just saved 3 lives.”

P.S. The American Red Cross has a great resource page for First Time Donors.

Do you give blood? If so, how regularly? If not, what prevents you from doing so?

Comments

  1. I am the first one to comment – YEA! I originally started giving blood in highschool to get out of class and it is something that I have kept up. It is something for me that is easy to do to help others.

  2. I unfortunately {or fortunately…..since I am a fainter} am not allowed to give blood since I had malaria when I was 3 years old. I, even tried, in college to donate plasma (b/c I heard they paid you for it and I was a college student…what can I say!), but they wouldn’t accept it.

    But…wow….3 lives! I had no idea that the blood could go that far….I better stop talking about it though because thinking about it makes me woosey to think of that amount of blood that comes out of you to make that happen.

    Oh boy…..well, I am proud of you for doing it!

  3. I donate every chance I get. My niece had leukemia and needed multiple transfusions during her year and a half of treatment. This opened my eyes to the constant need for all blood products.

    I fainted the very first time I gave blood but only because I was dumb and ran up a flight of stairs immediately following my donation. Not something I would recommend!

    I was very proud to receive my “gallon” pin recently at the blood drive at the high school where I work. As long as you are well hydrated and don’t try doing excessive physical activity immediately following donation donating should be an easy experience!

    Glad it went well for you and Tim, Stephanie! I am so enjoying reading about your experiences!

    Love ya,
    DeAun

    • A “gallon pin.” Wow. That is so admirable, DeAun. What a fine example to set for your colleagues…and your children.

      Thank you for following along on our journey (and encouraging us along the way).

  4. I used to give blood often (I have a gallon pin and I think I should have a second but never got it?), but due to health issues recently I haven’t. I think I might jump back on it and hope to make it through the day…we’ll see what happens? Good job, Steph!

  5. Vicarious Chelsea says

    I give as often as they’ll let me. I took time “off” during my pregnancies and breastfeeding, but once Zac weaned himself I’ve been back at it. I figure it’s a really easy way (for me at least, I don’t usually have any issues) for me to give something to someone in need, and it’s free!

  6. I was a gallon donor until the rule about having lived in Europe for more than six months was passed. Now I’m ineligible. So sad! Good for you donating!!

  7. I love giving blood! It was hard for me to wait patiently until I was 18 to donate. I was so excited. I don’t really know why. I just really wanted to & I’ve always loved doing it. For my first 6 years I used to donate about 3 times a year. Now through my baby years, I have only donated about 2 or 3 times, since I have been pregnant for a good chunk of the time over the past 6 years.
    I got denied one time for low iron. That was such a bummer for me. After that I always ate Total Raisin Bran cereal before going in. It seemed to work!

  8. YAY – blood donation is SO important – I haven’t given in awhile for the same reasons you mentioned… but I used to give quite regularly.
    If you really want to test your mettle – give plasma. I gave plasma like 3-4 times in college. It’s like a 3 hour procedure and very daunting. So… yeah I stopped giving the plasma b/c by the 4th time I just couldn’t mentally handle it! :)

  9. Hooray for donating blood, Stephanie, that’s awesome! I, sadly, have never given blood and I feel horrible about it on a daily basis because twice now I’ve had to receive massive amounts in transfusions (I lost around 5 liters after each of my last two deliveries.) I have no excuse for not giving before now, aside from a fear of needles but I no longer see that as an acceptable excuse, but since 2009 I haven’t been allowed to give since you have to wait a year after receiving a transfusion. My baby’s first birthday is April 13, so that’s when I’ll finally be eligible!

    The first time I had a transfusion was after the placental abruption I had when I lost my second daughter, Emma. They had to do a ton of transfusions during that whole ordeal, and I asked a nurse at one point how many people I needed to thank for saving my life and she said I was up to eight. So, I need to give a LOT of blood to make up for just that time, we’ll get to everything I took after my last delivery later I guess. :) My plan is to donate for the first time on Emma’s birthday this year, April 28. My mom and I are going to make that a tradition every year as a way of honoring our angel baby.

    From someone who’s life has been saved because of wonderful people like you- thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. I gave a couple of times in college when they had a blood drive. One time I was ineligible because I’d just been abroad for 4 months and another time I just barely passed the iron test.
    I don’t think I’ll try it now while nursing, but I so rarely see notices for blood drives around here that it just doesn’t even occur to me.

  11. The first time I gave blood (in college) I passed out afterwards. So I’ll be honest….I haven’t done it again. That’s the only time in my entire life I have passed out, and it was scary!

  12. I gave blood for the first time today. Here's how it went: http://bit.ly/i5ndoh #GiveEveryDay (mention: @connectforlife)

  13. When I was three I had my tonsils out – I remember getting my blood drawn, because it took them forever and several pokes of the needle to find a vein. It is a horrible memory. I have another memory when I was around 8 or 9 where the same thing happened and they ended up drawing blood out of my hand. For some reason it is really hard for people to find a vein in me – for this reason I don’t give blood. About 7 years ago the church where I was working had a blood drive and i figured I would give it a try, I mean, these people are proffessionals right? They find veins EVERY DAY, they should be able to find a vein in me! I was wrong! They poked and prodded and did finally get something, but then after the bag was about 1/4 full something happened and it was no longer filling, The phlebotomist gave up. So after that, I have decided I can give in other ways, blood dosn’t have to be one of them. My husband gives as much as he can, and we have taught our kids about it – hopefully they will be able to give one day.

  14. Oh, that’s so important! Good for you for overcoming your reservations and giving it a go.

    I’ve been donating regularly since college, except for the periods of time when I’ve been out of the country and ineligible to donate.

    Another important way to give – though if matched, more challenging – is to join the National Marrow Donor Program. I joined though have not yet been matched. (I’m kind of glad – ?? – about that, but will step up if I am a match, even though I’m scared about it.) They have a particular need for minorities.

    Oh, and I am an organ donor! Take it all! :D

  15. It’s a great way & easy way to give! The last two times I didn’t qualify and the previous time I did get light-headed. They had to use smelling salts on me which was a little weird. The first time I donated I didn’t have any issues, so I’d like to try it again. Just need to plan it out and boost my iron beforehand!

  16. What a great thing! I haven’t been able to give for many years because I have a genetic thing called hemochromatosis (it’s an abundance of iron thing – treated by giving blood!) – the blood banks in California weren’t allowed to use the blood. But I researched today and it looks like they can use the blood in Utah (where I now live) – cool!

  17. I’ve wanted to give blood, but I’m on the permanent list of “can’t give” because I lived in Ireland for more than 6 months during the big Mad Cow Disease scare.

  18. For some reason or another, I have very hard veins to find. Anytime I have to get blood drawn it takes quite a few tries and I come out looking like a pin cushion. Because of that, I always hesitated to give blood, however I finally had one good experience with a blood draw. The I told the technician I had hard veins and she said, “No problem! I will just use a butterfly needle!” and what do you know…she got me the first try and I hardly even noticed she was in there! Since then, I specifically ask if they can use a butterfly needle and it works like a charm! Good for you for going for it!!

  19. What a crucial way to give. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I adminster a lot of blood products at my work and know that you are really saving so many lives. (Even more of the little ones :)
    Thank you especially for giving because I wish I could. I did some back in high school. Sadly, Inow don’t meet some of the screening critieria, so I am so thankful for friends who do.

  20. Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor says

    That’s wonderful. My sister suffered a bad miscarriage a few months ago and may have died had it not been for blood donors. It makes me extra grateful whenever someone donates.

  21. Great idea, and I’m so glad that someone has mentioned joining the national Bone Marrow Registry too. I used to donate blood quite frequently, although not in recent years because of babies, nursing, etc. When the shootings happened in Tucson last month I tried to donate, but they were not in need of my blood type…

    I joined the National Bone Marrow Registry last fall though, and would be so honored if I am matched with someone in the future. Yes, the process is more complicated, but wow, what an amazing way to give a fresh start to someone in need! The process to join the registry was simple–just sign up online (BeTheMatch.org) to receive a kit in the mail, swab your cheeks when it arrives and send it back. Now I wait…

  22. Yep, I give almost as often as I can, which is about evey 2-3 months…they always call so I don’t have to remember.
    I guess I’ve been doing it since college, except for ~2 years of pregnancy. I am trying to remember if I donated when I was breastfeeding and I’m pretty sure I did. I don’t think it’s a reason for deferral.

    • The American Red Cross recommends that potential donors…

      * defer while pregnant
      * defer 6 weeks after giving birth
      * defer 12 months, if delivery required a blood transfusion

      I did a bit of research and it appears that there are a varying opinions on the topic.

      From the La Leche League website: “Dr. Gregory White does not recommend it. Dr. Jack Newman says any otherwise eligible mother who is not anemic can donate blood. The Canadian Blood Service does not allow breastfeeding mothers to donate blood in the first six months postpartum. LLL recommends that mothers consult their own physicians and make an informed choice.”

  23. I can’t give blood – I wish I could, it’s so needed and I know I’m healthy! But I have trigger mediated syncope so basically anytime the doctor takes blood for a blood test we have to be extremely careful or my blood pressure will drop to nothing, my heart will stop and I technically die so far I’ve always come back within 60-90 seconds – but it’s still scary and giving blood is simply too risky.

    Fortunately – now we know what the problem is! I’ve dealt with this since I was 12 or 13, but it wasn’t until I flat-lined on the table prior to my 2nd c-section that the doctors were able to figure out what was happening. Now we’re simply trying to determine what my triggers are and how to combat them. I’m young enough that the heart doctors don’t want to give me a pacemaker yet, but I’m a Momma – and I don’t want a freak syncope attack to take me out before my kids are grown and I’m an old woman!

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