Saturday, 1 September 2012

Be Nice To Me... I Gave Blood Today....

Actually I lie, I didn't give blood. I gave plasma. Liquid Gold

But they don't make a sticker for that.

......and I tell another lie. I didn't donate today. I donated on Thursday (forgive me, I'm new to this blogging caper and still trying to figure it all out - I've sat in front of the screen for days now trying to work it out! Plus I'm a procrastinator. Big time)

I've been donating plasma for almost 2 years - Ok I'll admit I had a break for a while this year but I had a nurse put the needle in incorrectly and well, I won't go into details - I don't want to scare off any potential new donors*

I would have started donating sooner but I was under the impression that I couldn't donate as I have an autoimmune disease. I was wrong.

I'm O+ (so is 40% of Australia's population) so I can give whole blood, plasma or platelets but I left it up to the Red Cross people and they suggested plasma, so plasma it is! Every fortnight! Did you know that 1 donation of plasma can make up to 17 life saving products??!!!

It's a simple process - if you're not afraid of needles (I have a friend who is terrified of them and I can't even show her my bandage without her freaking but that's a WHOLE other blog post)

So every 2 weeks I head to my local blood collection clinic. It all starts with filling out some paperwork to check that nothing has changed since my last donation, or in the case of it being a donors first donation ever or just the first in a very long time. Some of the questions make me giggle. 

"No I haven't had sex with a male sex worker since my last donation"

"No I haven't given birth since my last donation"

"Have I engaged in an "at risk sexual activity" in the last 12 months? Define "at risk". Last Christmas Day we had sex in our front garden** and were at the risk of the neighbour catching us. Does that count??"

Anyhoo, I digress. Where were we?

Ok, so I'm taken into a room to be "interviewed" - they go through all my answers and query any that draw their attention. I'm on auto pilot now. I know exactly which ones I need to answer.

"No my medication hasn't changed. I'm still taking the same damn tablet every stinking day. Stupid Thyroid!"

"Yes I have been out of Australia. Germany last year"

They then take my blood pressure, pulse and haemoglobin levels (yes that involves a finger prick test)

It's around this stage I'm doing the "pee dance" as I had to drink 2Lts of water before getting here.

Oh, I'm also weighed. I like to blame those extra 2 kilos on the 2Lts of water I had to drink!

After relieving myself of said liquid I'm seated in the donor chair, laid back and prepped.

I'm then hooked up to the plasma machine and it begins

The time it takes depends on how much plasma they are collecting.

For me it's around 30 minutes. My blood is good and flows well! I pass the time flipping through trashy magazines, ("Ooooooohh!! Brad and Jennifer broke up?") while trying to remember to squeeze the ball in my hand to help the blood flow.

Whole blood is collected, plasma is extracted and blood minus plasma is returned along with saline. This cycle happens a couple of times until the needed amount of plasma is extracted.

Then I'm unhooked and bandaged up. Again I'm doing the "I need to pee" wiggle (I can't really do the dance as I'm laying down) from all the extra fluid given.

Now it's time to sit down with a cup of tea and some cheese and crackers (actually you get a great choice of food and beverage) and reflect on what my donation means to so many Australians.

It makes me feel warm and fuzzy to know that my small amount of plasma really is liquid gold for many people, and although my particular autoimmune disease doesn't require me to rely on blood or plasma donations, many do and hence it's something that is close to my heart.

Did you know that 1 in 3 Australians need blood but only 1 in 30 donate? That's over 27,000 donations needed every week. Every. Single. Week!

Do you donate? 

What are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeve and donate today! Ok, not really today as you need to book, but at least have a think about it by clicking here and checking if you're eligible to donate, you can also find your nearest donor centre here.

*It actually wasn't that scary. The needle just wasn't put in correctly so on the return of the blood it was going under my skin instead of into my vein. I didn't even bruise!

**Before anyone freaks and thinks that I'm some big exhibitionist and leaves my already teensy weensy circle of "likers" I should explain that our garden isn't on display to all the neighbours or the cars driving past. We're tucked away in the back of the block of land and out of view thanks to trees and bushes (apart from one neighbour, but hey it was Christmas Day and hopefully the one day he wasn't out mowing or watering his yard) I should also point out that the kids were not home!

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  1. Ha! This made me laugh. The bit about 'risky sex' that is. Seriously, I went to donate blood once and the nurse person (who I found out later was a learner) jabbed me three or four times to get the right spot and when she finally got the spot blood poured out everywhere. And I mean everywhere - it was like in a bad movie where the blood just comes out and shoots 6 foot into the air. (Ok maybe not quite that bad). It made me feel slightly sick and the next day I woke up with the biggest, blackest and sorest bruise ever. So no more for me - it scared me off needles for a very long time. I'm still not over it :(

  2. Good for you! I wrote a post about donating blood last month, I go every 12 weeks. I have 0- so they always need me! I hate needles and I always end up with a bruised and sore arm, but I do it anyway. I'm a sucker like that.

    1. I shall go and read it now :)

      My sister is 0- but I can't convince her to come with me!


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