I donated blood recently. Frankly, it has been a long time coming but I’ve just never committed the time. I feel like it’s something that a lot of people want to do and they like the
idea, but they’re hesitant to go through with it. Personally, I finally booked an appointment because one of my friends shared their experience, and I was tired of delaying it myself. I’d
like to do the same for others, and you can read about the whole procedure and how I felt about it.
Overall, the process is exceptionally easy, and it begins by going to the website (https://blood.ca/en). There’s some permanent locations that have appointment hours available as long as their open, or sometimes they have mobile set-ups every now and then at a community centre or church for example. I picked a permanent location for no particularly reason, but it’s up to you.
When you arrive, you check-in and they get you to to complete a questionnaire on a tablet. This covers questions you should be able to answer yourself: Have you travelled to Country X for more than Y time? Do you have any relatives from Country X? Have you ever been under X medication?.
Once you complete the questionnaire, they bring you to a closed screening room. They didn’t personally ask me any follow-up questions, but I imagine this is where they would if they wanted any clarification from your questionnaire questions. They then check your blood pressure with that compressing wrap around your upper arm. Finally, they check your iron levels with a finger prick test.
Once this is done, you’re ready! They ask you which arm you prefer to have blood taken and they sit you this big cushioned chair you would see in a medical office. There are reminders that this is voluntary and to alert the staff if you feel especially unwell. From the arm you picked, they find a vein at the inside of the elbow to clean and puncture with a needle. This part tends to make people uncomfortable, but the staff is good at telling you to take deep breaths and look away when they’re about to do something the average person isn’t ready to see.
I was in the chair for over 10 minutes, and everything was fine. They go me to hold this warm wag of water in my hand to quicken the blood flow, but I didn’t feel particularly dizzy like they were worried about. My arm definitely felt weak though. Afterwards, I got a cool pin as a “first time donator” and you’re encouraged to stay for some juice and snacks. Those are important to make sure you’re feeling well, especially the first time since things feel new and you might not be sure what to expect.
Some weeks later, Canadian Blood Services sends you a thank-you letter (and some e-mails). The letter gives you a donor card which you can then use to track your future blood donations and see some health stats on the website. From there, you can book your next appointment, see your blood type, and track your hemoglobin and bleed time.
All in all, it was a great experience and I’ve already booked by next appointment. For me, donating blood is something that I was neglecting to do for some time, and I’m happy that I’ve got it done the first time and now I can make it a habit that I’ll do a couple times/year. Personally, I’ve been fortunate to have never needed a blood transfusion, but I shouldn’t be waiting for something to happen to me or someone I care about. With the state of the world now, I would rather be proactive.
If you’re reading this, I encourage to do whatever you’re comfortable with. Donating blood is an easy, compassionate act and I hope that I’ve left you with an encouraging note. Hearing someone else’s experiences was the catalyst that brought me out, so hopefully I can pass that on.
Simon Fraser University
Beedie School of Business