Becoming a Blood Donor
Have you ever considered becoming a blood donor? Or did you know that your possible donation of one pint of blood, can possibly save three lives. Let me take this time then to enlighten you on how that is possible. Firstly, a pint of blood is the equivalent to 450 ml, which can be further divided in to three primary components: these are red blood cells, platelets and cryoprecipitate a by-product of blood plasma. These blood by-products are then used in many life saving measures, for instance emergency surgeries from vehicular accidents, gunshot wounds, severe burns, extending also to organ transplants and maternal deliveries to name a few. Therefore becoming a blood donor, can also be viewed as one of the most selfless acts anyone could pursue, because each donation can save many lives daily.
The most commonly used methods of donations is either the Elective or Voluntary donation system. In an Elective donation, persons would be donating on behalf of a relative or friend for any planned surgery or medical procedure. Once a pint of blood has been obtained, they would be viewed as donors, and would receive a slip of paper identifying the patient’s name and hospital institution. This would be valid for that 6 month time period.
Voluntary donations are a result of donors donating to the blood bank. In such cases, records are kept of all successful donations. These donors have the option of adding to their account at regular intervals, as there is no expiration date given to this type of donation, (men can donate blood every 3 months, while women every 4 months) and they can withdraw at any time.
A proposed blood donation starts off by coming into a blood bank at any of the major government hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago. You must be 18 years and over and have a valid form of photo identification. Please note that person over 60 can donate up until age 70, but must bring a medical clearance letter from a doctor stating that you can donate blood. At the receptionist area, you will be asked what type of donation you have planned. Voluntary donation you will state the same, but in the case of an Elective donations, you should give the correct spelling of the person name you are donating to and the name of the Hospital that procedure will be done. The next step is the screening process that entails being weighed, all blood donors must have a weight over 110lbs to be eligible to donate a pint of blood. Blood pressure, pulse, temperature and iron concentration of your blood are also taken and must be within the normal ranges for donation to be possible. The last part of the of the screening process, entails an interview with the Blood bank nurse, who will ask a series of somewhat personal questions about yourself to see if you will make a suitable candidate. Once accepted by the interviewing nurse, the next step is onto the blood donation.
The blood donation room will have reclinable chairs for you to be seated at which time your arms will be positioned and pressure cuff placed to bring up your veins. At this time the nurse will clean the arm and create a sterile field for her to insert the needle. The tip of the needle is inserted into the vein and secured with tape, during this time the blood will drain into the blood giving bag through tubing that connected from the needle to the bag. The blood donation process should not go over 15 mins, or will be completed once the volume of blood has been reached (450ml). The blood donation machines will weigh the blood going into the bag to arrive at the correct volume. During the donation process the nurse will monitor your progress and ask you how you’re feeling, to make sure there have not been any changes in mood since the start of the donation. Once completed the needle is removed and a drink is given for rehydration. A final dressing will be done along with instructions to go home with, which will apply for the next two days.
Most successful donation will occur when you are relaxed, had a good night rest the night before (6–8hrs sleep), eaten a balanced meal prior to donation and hydrated on water (500ml or more). So why not pop into any blood bank nearest you and donate blood voluntarily. It truly can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever.