By Diane Forrest, RN
When I was in high school, the United Blood Drive came to my school to get donations. You had to be 17 to donate, and of course everyone wanted to donate, because that would mean getting out of class for the period you went. When it was my turn to go I was a little nervous. What I expected to be a simple procedure ended up being more complicated than I could have imagined. It started off simple enough, filling out the required paperwork and answering all the questions. Then they did a finger prick to determine my blood type. Next it was time to be stuck with the needle. It was then that I learned I had no veins. It took all of the blood drive employees to examine my arms for a suitable vein. I was told that I had surface veins, and they could not be used.
Finally after being stuck for the third time a return of blood flow was awarded. You would have thought they struck oil! Their elation soon ended when then flow of blood turned into a trickle, then a drop. The well had gone dry, and I had only filled half of the bag. They were very disappointed, however not nearly as disappointed as me. Not only was I sent back to class without a rest time, but I didn't even get any juice or cookies. The blood could not be used, and had to be discarded. I failed at donating blood, but that doesn't mean that you can't donate.
I later learned from my father, that when I was a baby, I dehydrated, and they couldn't find any veins at that time either. They had to make an incision on my ankle to find a vein to place an IV in so that I could get fluids.
January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month. January was chosen because it is the hardest month to recruit volunteers. Changing weather, busy holiday schedules, increased cold and flu symptoms and even the winter blues can keep the most dedicated blood donors from making or keeping an appointment to give. Yet winter weather can lead to more traumatic injuries on icy roads and may increase the need for blood. Donating blood is a simple, painless task that not only makes you feel good about helping your fellow man, but also 1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives.
For more information about donating blood visit this site: http://www.americasblood.org/
Then call your local blood bank and schedule your appointment to give the gift of life.