Sunday, April 03, 2011

Tips in blood donation, part 2

Last week, I announced in my facebook status that I was ready to donate my blood again. That I'm blood type O and I will prioritize giving my blood to friends, their family members and close friends. The first time I donated blood was last December, I gave it to a dear wedding godmother who was in a life-and-death situation at the ICU in Makati Med and I wrote my experience there in Part 1 of this new series.

Early this week, I got a call from a friend, Kosha Villar, saying that her officemate knows someone urgently in need of blood, that the patient has been at the intensive care unit (ICU) for a week already. It broke my heart to hear this, so immediately said Yes to her. The patient though is at Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa, rather far from Makati and the blood donation section closes at 5pm. So the patient's friend said they can wait on Saturday.

About two days after I said Yes to the above patient, I got another call from another friend, asking if I can donate my blood to her friend who has leukemia, confined at the National Kidney Institute (NKI)in QC. Another sad news for me, but I told my friend that I already promised to give my blood to another patient at Asian Hospital. She understood.

This will be the second time that I will donate my blood and I realized just how important it is for other people. You are helping a patient in really critical, balancing between life and death conditions.

Yesterday morning, I went to Asian Hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa. I just took the bus as it is expensive to go there (tollgate, fuel, parking). At the 3rd floor, the blood donation section, while filling up the information sheet, I realize how far I am in the friendship-link from the patient. It goes like this: the patient's husband is a close friend of the brother of the officemate of my friend.

Patient --> her husband --> his friend --> friend's brother --> my friend, Kosha --> me.

That's five connections away. So when I met the father of the patient, Celso, he should be 60s something, he was very happy to meet another stranger donating blood for her daughter. Except for my friend, I have not met any of them before.

Here I was, lying again as blood was pumped out from me. Some 450 ml or nearly half-liter was taken away from my body yesterday. As I was lying there, Celso was looking at me, he was all smiles, a picture of joy was very clear in his face. I asked him, "Sir, can you take my picture from my cellphone?" He readily agreed.

As I noted in Part 1, you should be in top shape you intend to donate blood. You should check NO to about 20 or 25 questions like:
* Do you have body piercing, permanent tatoo, etc. in your body?
* Do you have HIV or AIDS or STD?
* Do you have diabetes, had malaria, dengue, etc. recently?
* Do you have hypertension, other diseases of the heart...?
* Did you take alcohol the past 24 hours?
* Did you have tooth extraction the past week (or month?)?
* Did you engage in homosexual practice recently?
* Did you have contact with any commercial sex worker recently?
* Have you been to certain areas of Africa, certain provinces of the Philippines such as ...?
* Are you taking maintenance medication against hypertension, high cholesterol, etc.?

Boy, it's 2 pages, back to back, of checking NO to the above questions. But there are some questions that you should check YES. Like, "Are you aware that you are putting in danger the life of the patient who will get your blood if you give wrong information above?"

And after submitting the information sheet, to include your full name, age, address, your contact person, etc., a pathology department staff will again ask you those questions verbally to check if there's any hesitance in your answer. And then she will take your blood pressure, then get a sample of your blood for testing -- against any infection from malaria, dengue, HIV, STD, and other undesirable diseases.

I think those precautions should be strictly observed. A blood donor who lies in any of the questions above, like denying that he/she has high alcohol content in his/her blood (say, after a drinking binge the night before) will further imperil a patient who may be in a 50-50 situation already.

The pathology department staff noted that my blood pressure yesterday was rather high, 130/100. I told her that I lacked sleep, I worked until 12:30 midnight of Friday, went to bed at 1am, woke up at 7am. She said that's fine, they need a blood donor to have slept at least 6 hours before. I told her that my normal bp is 120/80 since about 20 years ago. And that I take zero medication, not even any multi-vitamin supplement. She smiled.

My blood, ba-bye! I was given a tetra pack juice for immediate rehydration. Then I remained lying down for 10 minutes after the huge syringe was pulled out from my left arm.

Like in my previous blood donation, I did not feel any dizziness, any weakness after, nothing. Then Celso told me about her daughter's condition. Yesterday was her 10th day at the ICU. Two weeks ago, she had bad LBM, she was severely dehydrated when she was brought to the hospital. The physicians suspect some form of blood poisoning, so the patient will need more blood infusion.

Celso offered to bring me to her daughter's room. The patient's sight broke my heart: a tube in her nose, a tube in her mouth, several tubes in her arms, she was sleeping in pain, several monitoring instruments beside her. She's only 34 years old, has 3 kids and her youngest is only 8 months old.

I did not like the sight of her pitiful condition, so after about 2 minutes, I bid Celso goodbye and again, he profusely thanked me.

Healthcare is mainly personal responsibility, it's not government responsibility. We should take care of our body. For our own health. For our kids and family. And for other people who someday, will be needing our blood.

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