Recently, I had a very positive experience donating blood for the first time. I have been considering donating blood for a while, but I never took action on that thought. A Big Red Bus was right outside the building where I work so I decided the time was right to donate. The staff was very nice, the needle was not bad, I scored a t-shirt and a coupon and I left feeling healthy and proud of myself.
Your hemoglobin levels need to be healthy in order to donate and I allowed my history of anemia become a self-imposed barrier to donation. In reality your hemoglobin is checked prior making a donation, thus this screening rules you in or out as a donor based on this and a number of other factors. OneBlood screened my hemoglobin using a small device on my thumb (OrSense NBM 200) thus no finger stick needed.
The whole process took less about 45 minutes, including the interview and questionnaire before the donation, the mini-physical, and ensuring I was stable after the donation. From my reading, three things help make donating a trouble free experience.
“During the blood collection process, blood volume decreases, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure. This sudden drop causes some people to pass out while they give blood”
As a general rule, I am pretty hydrated and took extra care to drink lots of water throughout the day after the donation.
“Sudden decreases in blood sugar level also cause fainting during blood donation”
Being in the throws of my routine of intermittent fasting and not having had breakfast, I consented to consuming a couple of peanut butter crackers prior to beginning the donation. In retrospect, I am wondering how this variable differs for someone without normal glucose control who are not prone to hypoglycemic episodes/insulin resistant. The fellow conducting my pre-donation interview chuckled when I offered to grab a meat stick from my desk since I had not eaten breakfast. He announced that today was to be “cheat day” which made me laugh. Next time, I will have breakfast and pass on the carbs and see how it goes. I read some anecdotes from others following a ketogenic diet who have donated blood and this appears to be a fine strategy.
“Blood donation also has an emotional component. During emotional stress, the body directs blood flow to the muscles to prepare for the flight or fight response to danger. This diverts blood from the brain, increasing the risk that someone will pass out during the donation process.”
Fortunately, I do not have a needle or blood phobia, the needle stick hurts no more than a pinch and the collection container was not visible. I was pretty relaxed throughout the process and was glad to not include stress hormones in my donation (smile). Deep breathing during the donation would be a good tool to use to combat feeling anxious if you choose to donate.
The most compelling reason for donating is providing life-saving blood to those who need it as well as good feeling from serving the community. Here are some additional articles with interesting information about donating blood.
More to come…..