A dear friend to us, one of our wedding "ninang" (godmothers), is sick, and she badly needed blood donors. Yesterday, I donated blood for the first time in my life. I attempted to donate blood in the past, but on those occassions, either I just got back from illness myself, or was taking medications, so I did not qualify to donate blood.
Just two days from now, it will be Christmas. I feel very sad to see our ninang in the hospital, sick and weak. She has been there since last week. Like when my kid is sick, I wish that her pain can be transferred to me if only to alleviate her condition. The same feeling I had yesterday as I walked out of her room, going to the hospital blood bank to donate my blood.
Here are some tips for potential blood donors, whether donating a blod to a beloved friend or family member, or giving blood on a regular basis to anonymous beneficiary.
The following can NOT donate blood, despite deep desire to help:
1. Been sick lately, and taking medications
2. Lighter or thinner than 110 lbs
3. Below 18, above 60 years old
4. Had tooth extraction, major operation/surgery, tattoo, ear/body piercing the past year
5. Donated blood within the past 3 months
6. Taking maintenance medication except vitamins, hypertensive/high blood people on regular drugs
7. With history of illegal drug use in the past
8. Pregnant women, of course.
9. Have HIV/AIDS, or had unprotected sex with a commercial sex worker recently
10. Currently has a high blood or low blood, or had heavy high octane drinks in the body the past 24 hours.
There are other prohibitions, depending perhaps on the hospital that is taking the donated blood.
Donors go to the hospital blood bank, fill out a form, indicate the name of patient whom the donor wants to give his/her blood, sign the form.
Then a physician will interview the potential donor to verbally ask some questions that have been answered in the form, like "have you really not used a commercial sex worker recently, you really are not taking any maintenance medications, etc." The physician then takes your blood pressure, your pulse rate, then signals a staff whether you are indeed eligible to donate blood or not.
If you are, a staff will get your blood sample. To determine your blood type, to see if you have HIV or other communicable diseases, or whatever indicator. You go back to your chair and wait to be called if indeed you can donate blood.
When you're called, then you lie down on a bed to have the actual blood donation. In my experience yesterday, actual blood letting was only about 10 minutes or less, and 450 ml of blood was removed from my system. It was not painful for me, except the initial injection of the needle to penetrate a blood vessel in my arm. There is a tv in the room on a sports channel, so donors can watch a basketball game or other sports on the screen.
The staff comes back when the plastic bag is already full -- 450 ml of blood was taken out from my body within 10 minutes or less. Lie down for 5 to 10 minutes more to rest, applying some pressure on the part where the needle exited.
This was how my arms looked like yesterday, minutes after the blood donation. The right arm was for the blood test. The left arm was for the actual blood letting.
I did not feel any dizziness after, nor felt weak. I just felt dehydrated though. After blood donation, the staff gave me a tetrapack juice to rehydrate immediately. After consuming it while walking, within about 15 minutes, I got thirsty again. So if you donate blood, bring extra drinking water.
Lesson one: Be in good health always. For yourself and your loved ones. Because even if you are not sick but on maintenance drugs or have high blood/low blood, etc., and one person very dear to you will need your blood someday, even if you wish to help, you simply cannot.
Lesson two. Health is mainly personal (and parental) responsibility, not government responsibility. People should not over-smoke, over-drink, over-eat, ovet-sit (sedentary lifestyle), over-fight (and have stab wounds from time to time), then they run to the government to demand that "health is a right".
There are many cases of course, that people will get sick even if they do not abuse their body -- like our ninang in this case. Biology and human genetics also determine our health, aside from our lifestyle. But assuming more personal responsibility about our personal health is very important.