Weekend Well-Spent: Saving Lives One Bag of Blood at a Time

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Weekends are precious to me. This is the only instance I get to have uninterrupted time to spend with myself, my family, and the people important to me. The weekend is also the particular time of the week I have the right not to read emails nor attend to any work-related matter. That's why I just love weekends. ❤️

Normally on weekends, I'm just at home cooking, baking, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, playing with my niece and nephew (and being annoyed if they stay in the house for more than 4 hours 😤), reading books, watching K-dramas, etc. Afternoons are for sharing snacks with Ma and Pa and catching up on all the things I missed the entire week I wasn't home.

But last weekend, on a rather gloomy Saturday, my boyfriend and I took a different route. A heroic one, if I may.


A QUICK THROWBACK

I have been inspired by my boyfriend who's been donating blood even before we met. So when I did my Personal Annual Planning for 2021, I targeted to donate at least twice this year. And last Saturday, 25th of September 2021, I ticked it off my bucket list.


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My first blood donation was last March 2021. I've been meaning to donate even back in college but haven't had the guts and the chance. Until March when my boyfriend and I talked about donating and he seconded the motion.

It's embarrassing to say this but I fainted and passed out when I first donated blood. Wait, let me rephrase that to avoid confusion. I passed out but not during the extraction of blood. After successfully donating blood for the first time, I had my brows fixed through threading. This required my head to be tilted up which I later discovered isn't allowed if you've just donated blood. It's funny how the Red Cross team rushed to the Salon just across their building to help me recover. I can remember how my boyfriend held my hand and kept on saying "Twin! Twin! Twin!" and how fast he was to buy juice because I needed sugar to recover as per the Red Cross team who responded. It was an amazing experience, one for the books indeed but I have learned my lesson. 😅

As if I wasn't traumatized enough by that incident, I scheduled my 2nd blood donation last Saturday, as mentioned earlier.


STEPS IN DONATING BLOOD

I see two reasons why people are afraid to donate blood: (1) they're afraid of the big needles (they're really big tho 😢) and (2) they don't know what usually happens upon donation. I mean the process "Is it safe?" "Are the people trained to extract blood?" "What happens if I faint during the extraction, will I die?" Questions like these hinder people to donate blood even if they're qualified. I am writing this article in the hope to educate people about the step-by-step procedure that ensures the safety of donating blood specifically in Philippine Red Cross - Cebu Chapter.

So what happens when you donate? What are the processes? If you're curious, let me give you a quick run-through:

1. Sanitize your hands

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If not for COVID, this step will not appear here. Anyway, Philippine Red Cross - Cebu Chapter set up a handwashing area in front of its building. Make sure to thoroughly clean your hands before proceeding to the next step.

2. Express your intention to donate

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I am not sure if the same goes for other Red Cross Chapters, but in Philippine Red Cross - Cebu Chapter, only donors will be allowed inside their building. You have to press the bell to call their attention first then they'll ask what's your business for visiting them. You just have to mention that you'll donate blood. In our case, they ask for our Blood Donation Card issued to us last time.

3. Fill out the Blood Donor Interview Sheet

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Then, you'll be asked to fill out the Blood Donor Interview Sheet. The questions in this form include basic personal information, questions relating to your general health condition, and some specific questions pertaining to HIV/AIDs, unprotected sex, tattoo, etc. As much as possible, all questions must be answered with all honesty. We're here to donate blood and consequently, save lives that's why we have to ensure that the blood we donate is safe and healthy.

For females, the last menstrual period should be stated as well. Here's something I learned from the first time I donated blood. I used to hear that girls couldn't donate blood during their menstrual period, but according to the staff, menstruation might affect but not the sole factor to determine whether girls can or can't donate blood.

This leads to the next step, the initial screening and blood type test.

4. Initial Screening and Blood Type Test

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You can't just donate blood whenever you want to. You must pass a screening procedure in order to donate. Their staff will verify your answers in the form by asking you the same questions and highlight some questions specifically questions pertaining to unprotected sex. After verifying, they'll run a blood test to ensure your blood is qualified for donation. The staff got a small blood sample from our fingertips and dropped some in the blue liquid (I forgot to ask the name of the liquid). If your blood will sink the moment it's dropped then you can donate, but if your blood will stay on the surface, unfortunately, you will not be allowed to proceed to the next step.

In our case, my boyfriend and I passed. The staff then performed a quick blood type test using Anti-A and Anti-B Antiserum. He was also kind enough to explain what the test is for and how to determine our blood type. He dropped the Anti-A and Anti-B Antiserum in one glass slab and then dropped my blood in both liquids then he mixed my blood with the Antiserum. If after mixing, there will be lumps on the Anti-A serum, I am Type A; the same goes for the Anti-B Antiserum. In my case, my blood completely dissolved in both Anti-A and Anti-B serum, which means, I'm neither Type A nor B nor AB, I'm Type O.

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5. Doctor's Consultation

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Once the staff is already done examining your blood type, you will now be sent to the doctor (in the adjacent room) for the final check-up. The doctor will get your blood pressure and ask follow-up questions. After the assessment, he will sign on the same form and you're good to go.

6. Blood Extraction

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And we're now in the most exciting part, the blood extraction. It took more or less 15 minutes to extract one bag of blood equivalent to 450cc. Per donation, only one bag of blood is recommended to be extracted from the donor.

The needle will hurt at the onset but you'll get used to the pain and the next thing you'll know, you're done! All you need to do is relax and breathe normally during the entire extraction procedure. They used a small weighing scale to measure the blood extracted.

7. Rest and Recover

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Last time, we didn't rest long enough since I didn't feel anything unusual after donating blood. But recalling last March's incident, this time we rested for more than 30 minutes to ensure I will not pass out.

My boyfriend's very keen on checking on me every once in a while to make sure I feel fine before we leave the premise of Red Cross. I'm one lucky girl! 😍

As a way of saying thank you, they gave us two (2) packs of biscuits, juice in tetra packs, and a face shield. I brought one of my favorite breads tho.


Helpful Things To Do Before Donating
  • Get at least seven (7) hours of sleep
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat healthy meals
Helpful Tips After Donating

*Don’t do any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day.
*Get enough sleep
*If you feel dizzy, immediately stop what you are doing, lie down until you recover
*Do not perform any activity which may lead to fainting or dizziness for the next 24 hours
*Eat healthy meals
*Drink plenty of fluids


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That's it! I hope you won't be that scared the next time the idea of donating blood crosses your mind.😉 I'll leave the following details in case you want to contact Philippine Red Cross - Cebu Chapter:

Contact information: 09224194780
Address: Osmeña Blvd. (beside Rizal Public Library), Cebu City, Cebu

They're open to receiving blood donors from 9 AM to 4 PM only from Mondays to Saturdays.

How about donating blood next weekend? Hop in and save lives! ❤️


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Patsitivity

Living life intentionally every single day, she believes that there’s no limit to one’s potentials. Right now, she’s on the loose for the pursuit of endless holistic self-growth and development. She wants to light the way for others. She believes there’s no better way to leave a legacy than to pay it forward.

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