Donating blood rocks

I was head banging at the BC/DC concert at Funtastic this weekend when If You Want Blood (You Got It), came blaring over the crowd. A fitting song considering my blood donating appointment was two days away. Here you go Canadian Blood Services, you got it.

I don’t know why I started donating, but, it’s my new hobby.

I like to believe that I am a fairly lucky person. There has been no serious injuries or illnesses in my family (knocks on wood desk twice), so I haven’t been influenced by trauma to donate. It’s just something I do every 56 days – give or take a few.

I’ve never had an issue with needles at the doctor’s office, but the one they stick into your arm at the clinic is cringe-worthy. It’s like having a slurpee straw stuffed into your arm.

I’d like to provide insight to those who have never donated and hopefully inspire future donors. When you book your appointment after reading this column, make sure you have some free time on the day you choose to go.

The process of donating takes an hour at the minium. There’s a lot of paperwork and questionnaires to fill out before the actual donation.

The giving part only takes about 15 minutes but then they also make you wait 15 minutes following the donation to make sure you have no ill effects. To help ease the wait time, they have cookies and juice in the waiting area.

And that’s when they aren’t busy. During the prime-time hours (3 to 5 p.m.) you can expect to be held up to two hours.

But it’s worth it. If all you have to do in order to save lives is sit around for two hours and endure five seconds of pain from the needle, it’s worth it.

There are three types of blood products you can donate: blood plasma, platelets and whole blood.  The whole blood is the most common one, it’s the one I always do. It’s where they fill up that plastic bag with a pint of your life fluid. Platelets are about a quarter of the size of red blood cells and are fragile cell fragments. When a blood vessel is damaged, platelets stick to the vessel, clustering together to plug the hole. This is known as blood clotting.

The plasma donation happens either by separating it from whole blood after a donation, or by using a special collection process called apheresis. Apheresis is a medical technique in which the plasma portion of your blood is separated during donation, and all your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are returned to you.

Once the blood is collected, it is delivered to a Red Cross blood laboratory where it is processed into several components and stored. A single donation may help up to three people.

Hospitals need blood for major surgeries, medical procedures, cancer treatments and managing disease.

My blood type is O+, it is the most common in Canada at 39 per cent. Since O+ is the most common, it is in the highest demand in hospitals. There are four types of blood each with a positive and negative. There is A, B, AB and O. The blood types need to match up like two pieces of Velcro.

People with AB+ are known as universal receivers. They can accept blood from all types and make up 2.5 per cent of the population.

Seven per cent of people contain O- blood are known as universal donors. Their blood can be donated and matched up with any blood type.

It is recommended for applicants to be between the ages of 17 and 61. I waited until after my athletic career ended to donate, but you don’t have to. The more frequent you donate, the easier the process is. You can get a blood donor card and familiarize yourself with the process which will help speed things up.

Make sure you eat food, drink plenty of water the day of and wear short sleeves. The better hydrated you are, the easier it is for the nurse to find a vein and the blood will flow a lot quicker.

There is a GiveBlood app and it helps find clinics, view appointment times, book or cancel appointments and has facts about your blood.

It doesn’t have to be a physical donation, there are ways to donate financially.

Call 1-888-2-DONATE (366283) to book an appointment to give. For more information on Canadian Blood Services, visit http://www.blood.ca.

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Published by: Tyler Lowey

Sports editor for the Strathmore Times. Formerly with The Morning Star and CBC Radio One. I like to write about sports — especially the cool ones. I get asked a lot, "Are you Super Dave?" or, "Your name isn't Dave." I am not Dave. Check me out on Twitter and Instagram @tlowey9, and follow this blog's Instagram page @superdavesbasement. Thanks for checking it out! Enjoy.

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