Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 11: Give Blood

"The need is constant. The gratification instant."
Cost: Free
Difficulty: 2
Time: 1 hour

I haven't given blood since college. It's pretty easy to do and it makes you feel good. Here's what goes down the first time you give (I wasn't in their system, so they treated me like a new donor):

  • You make an appointment or just go to a local blood drive (I think they accept walk-ins most of the time).
  • They ask you some general information, then you fill out a confidential questionnaire that screens out people who would be disqualified, e.g., having or being high risk for HIV, having or being high risk for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (Mad Cow), etc.
  • They test that you're healthy enough to give.
  • You lie down on a bed and a needle is inserted into your arm. It takes about 10 minutes for them to draw a pint.
  • The nurse gives you a quick back rub (I guess for circulation?) and they give you some juice and snacks and you're done.
If you're afraid of needles or faint at the sight of blood this would be a challenging process, but otherwise is an easy way to feel good about yourself.

I asked the nurses what percentage of blood got used; they didn't know (or claimed not to know). My guess is "not much," but that doesn't mean it's not important. It can't be stockpiled for long, and in the event of a disaster it may not be feasible to quickly collect large amounts. So maintaining a steady supply of donations is key for ensuring they have enough for an emergency.

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