My first time (donating blood)

Camila Gonzalez, Reporter

I donated blood for the first time on April 16 at the HCP blood drive. I was sitting in Drama I when I was called to the gym for donation. I was upset that I hadn’t been called out of Spanish II instead because I was not in the mood for language learning that day for one reason or another.

After retrieving my transcript from the office, I signed in on a computer and sat down in the waiting area. I was called over to a cubicle for my health screening. My pulse and blood pressure were taken. At first my pulse was too high to donate safely, I hadn’t realized I was even nervous, so it had to be taken after I answered questions.

I answered quite a few of them on a laptop that looked like it had been made in 1999. Have you ever had this disease? Have you ever taken this medication? Have you ever had sex with a prostitute? Then the man who talked me through all this asked me even more questions.

“Have you been pregnant more than three times?” he asked.

“Nope. Just twice,” I joked.

Shortly after this, I was sent to the chair so that I could donate. The nurse searched my inner elbow for a vein. Soon after she found one, she told me to look away and the needle was in my arm. It didn’t really hurt. It felt like a pinch. It was like a really hard, strong pinch that lasted for a few minutes. She put a green foam object in my hand and told me to squeeze it every three to five seconds. There was music playing which actually helped me continue to do that. “Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West played and it got to the part where there’s this static noise every few seconds, so I just squeezed it during each static noise.

The nurse gave me a can of Gatorade to drink while the blood was draining. I don’t like Gatorade, but I figured it was probably a good idea to drink it without protest.

I had filled about half of the blood bag when there was a problem. My blood clotted, meaning it stopped flowing into the needle. Two nurses worked to try to get it to drip again but soon it was clear that I was done. One of the nurses told me that this is what the body is supposed to do.

“It found a leak and fixed it,” she said.

I was pretty sad about this. In order for them to use the blood, I had to fill the entire bag and some vials which would be used for testing. It felt like quite a bit of blood was being removed from my body, so the fact that it was basically for nothing was disappointing.

After they took out the needle and bandaged my arm, I went back to the waiting area to recover. I ate some of the snacks that were on the table. The drinks were in a cooler. It was really difficult to open it because I was weakened by the loss of blood. That felt weird and unreal. It was also a struggle to open up a bag of pretzels.

Once I felt like I could walk around without falling down, it was time to go to lunch. I slowly walked through the empty hallways to get my lunchbox out of my locker before I went to the cafeteria. I sat down at a table with my friends, full of fatigue and with a dizzy head. I felt like I might pass out. I talked about my blood clotting and the delicious Nutter Butters I’d eaten afterward to keep myself awake.

Some time in the future, I’ll probably attempt to donate again. This is such an easy and important way to help people, so I want to try again and actually succeed. Maybe if I just drink a whole lot of water next time, things will run more smoothly.