Tag Archives: blood donation

Because it’s important.

I took the time to donate blood last week. Actually, I was lucky in that there was a blood drive sponsored by the company I work for, so it made things convenient. I didn’t even have to leave the floor I was working on.

If you’re a frequent reader here, you’ve seen a lot of stories about the importance of giving your blood if you’re able. You may be thinking, “Why talk about this again?”.

Because it’s important, that’s why. In fact, donated blood is as important to some as insulin is to People With Diabetes. They can’t live without it. It’s particularly important to those with more rare blood types.

**Note: People living with diabetes in the USA are able, should we meet eligibility requirements, to donate blood.

I’m an O Positive, which puts me in select company, and that means my blood type is in demand. Who could use my blood? Think about it:

– Surgery patients
– Trauma center patients
– Cancer patients
– Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia and other blood disorders

And that’s just scratching the surface. Every blood donation can save up to three lives.

I’ve known a number of people in my life who needed transfusions at one time or another, and without people like me, they might be left needing. I don’t like it when people are left needing something I can so easily give away.

I mean, here’s something I can do that doesn’t cost me anything but an hour of my time. Besides, I’m used to being stuck with sharp objects, so the whole process is no big deal to me.

I hope you’ll go to redcross.org/blood to find out more about the blood donation process and schedule your appointment to give.

Trust me… it feels really great knowing you helped someone who needed you.

Something positive.

After so much death and sadness this past week, it feels good to do something positive.

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This is me, in the middle of donating blood last Saturday. This time, I donated double red blood cells. That bag you see hanging off of the machine in the background (the one that looks like it doesn’t belong) contains my plasma. Behind that was another bag that was just starting to collect my red blood cells.

Basically, the machine you see collects my blood, then separates the red blood cells from the plasma. Once it gathers enough red blood cells, it transfers those to the bag for collection. Then the plasma, along with an anti-coagulant, is pumped back into me through the same IV that took the blood out.

Does that sound creepy? Sorry. It’s actually kinda cool to me.

In case you haven’t read what I’ve written on this subject before, allow me to tell you that, if you live in the USA, and you have diabetes, and your diabetes isn’t old enough to have been treated with bovine or pork-based insulin; and you are, in the words of the American Red Cross, “well controlled on insulin or oral medications”, you may be eligible to donate blood. And I encourage you to consider doing so. You never know when it may be needed.

After this past week that included four high profile deaths due to cancer, the death of the Eagles’ Glenn Frey, and countless other deaths and injuries and infections that could have potentially been helped through a donation of my blood, I do consider it a responsibility to donate. If we’re eligible, it’s one of the easiest, most selfless things we can do.

And after a week like the one we’ve just had, it makes me feel like I’m finally doing something positive to push back against the sadness. I think that qualifies as a win-win. What do you think?
 
 
People living with diabetes may be eligible to donate blood in the United States. CLICK HERE For a full list of eligibility criteria.
 

What you do makes a difference, even if you’re not sure how.

Friday morning, I went down to my local American Red Cross office and donated blood (yes, in the USA, you can live with diabetes and donate blood—see more HERE).

The beginning of these appointments are usually pretty clinical, full of process-related steps that everyone has to go through before they actually stick a needle in your arm and do what you came for. At that point, things tend to open up a bit, because if they didn’t, you’d just be hanging out, you and the phlebotomist, with nothing to do for a while, and that would be kinda boring.

That’s when I try to get the phlebotomist to tell a funny story, or I try to tell one, and that keeps the conversation going while I squeeze on a little foam ball every three to five seconds during the “donation process”.

This time, after telling of my low adventures after the last time I donated, I asked the technician (name withheld) if she liked what she did there at the American Red Cross. I wasn’t prepared for what she said next:

“Oh yeah, I love it. I really do. When I started this job, I just thought I was collecting blood, and that was all. Then, my Mom was injured, and she needed at least a unit of whole blood every day for almost a month. One day, when I was visiting her in the hospital, I saw them hang a unit of blood and it had a sticker on it saying it came from my center. I just broke down and cried. I knew right then that I was making a difference, and I’ve never looked at my job the same way again. I love it.”

Maybe you’re raising money for a diabetes walk, hosting a D-meetup, or agitating elected officials to approve legislation so senior citizens can be covered for continuous glucose monitors under Medicare. If you do those things long enough, they can begin to get monotonous, and you may start to wonder if what you’re doing makes any difference at all.

Well, when you do, remember our technician’s story. And remember, like I’ve said before, if you make a positive impact on just one person’s life, that’s an impact that in most cases would not have been made if it weren’t for you. You make a difference, through the things mentioned above, and just by continuing to live well with diabetes. Even if we don’t get as clear an indication of our difference-making as my friend at the Red Cross.

If enough of us concentrate on helping that one person live better, healthier, happier; then eventually, those individual successes will steamroll into a greater success story than many of us could imagine. Until that day, let me say:
Thank you for making a difference.
 
 
 

What hapens to your blood sugar when you give blood?

Note: This is only my experience while donating blood. Your experience, like your diabetes, may vary.

I got up early the Saturday before last, had breakfast, and made my way to the American Red Cross Mt. Hope Donor Center in Baltimore. I had intended to write about the blood donation process; being transparent about what transpires is a good thing.

But… sometimes, your blood sugar numbers just get in the way of your best-laid plans.

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I arrived at the center about ten minutes early Saturday. I figure, early in, early out. Prior to going in, I checked my BG and it was 156 mg/dL (8.6 mmol/L). I did carry my meter in with me, which you should do too if you decide to donate blood.

Red-Cross

I was not concerned about this number, but I knew my BG would probably come down during the donation process, so as I entered the center I suspended my pump. What if I wound up high later? I didn’t care. In this case, better to be high than to go too low during the donation process.

I went through the initial reading of information, being tested for anemia, and answering questions to make sure I didn’t have any conditions and that I’m not taking any medications that would preclude me from giving blood. Then it was on to the donation.

I went through the donation process (see photos), and during this entire time I thought I was okay, but in fact, I was dropping. When the donation process was complete, we’re encouraged to take a moment and have a snack and a little juice, so our blood sugar can recover from the process. I was sure that since my pump had been suspended for about an hour after my BG was 156, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

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I sat down, and the first thing I did was pull my meter out of my pocket and check. Which, if you decide to donate blood, you should do too. What was the result? 50 mg/dL (2.8 mmol/L).

Wow. I had a little juice and a bag of pretzels. Twenty minutes go by, and I’m sure I must be higher. Don’t forget, I haven’t restarted my pump yet. My next check revealed: 59 mg/dL (3.2 mmol/L).

What? I was sure I was going to be okay after this, so I made the huge mistake of driving home. In retrospect, I feel horrible about driving at that point, but I should be honest, and that’s what I did. I drove home. It was about a ten minute drive, and I checked again once I got there: 56 mg/dL (3.1 mmol/L).

I’m now at the “I can’t believe this” stage. I downed a glass of juice and had a slice of bread with peanut butter. I waited another twenty-five minutes to check this time. Finally… at 11:20… 169 mg/dL (9.4 mmol/L). After nearly two hours, I finally started up my pump again.

I guess I always knew that my blood sugar could be affected by donating blood. But this experience was something I did not count on. So next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll be more prepared than ever.

There is currently a desparate need for whole blood and blood platelets for patients of all kinds. If you’re living with diabetes in the USA, you may still be able to donate blood– and save a life. Find all the info at redcrossblood.org, or send me an e-mail using the link in the upper-left corner of this page and I’ll tell you what I know.
 
 
 

Wordless Wednesday – Tangible proof.

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I received this in my e-mail this week. It’s a great feeling when you get tangible proof that something you’ve done will help someone else.

If you’re living with diabetes and living in the USA, you may be able to donate blood. To find out more, go to redcrossblood.org.
 
 
 

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