Overdrawn at the Blood Bank

Batman is a big believer in blood banks. As you can see from the picture above, he frequently makes donations and encourages those around him to make donations as well.

The first time I gave blood was when the local blood bank sent a truck to my high school. It was at the end of the day, the phlebotomists seemed eager to go, and I had to quickly fake my parents’ permission on the consent form (Shh! Tell no one!), so you might guess that it did not very well.

In college, the blood bank would send a truck out to campus and hold a blood drive every couple of months. Despite my troubled history, I tried to give regularly, since I believed in the program. Did you know?

  • There’s no substitute for human blood.
  • Every three seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion.
  • About one in seven people entering a hospital need blood.
  • A pint of blood, separated in to components, can help up to three adults or ten infants.

And besides that, I got something out of it, too. They were always giving out free t-shirts or vouchers for free ice cream or free movies. I got free regular blood screenings, and I am “banking” priority blood bank access in case anyone in my immediate family needs a transfusion. Win-win, right?

It was, except for the fact that the phlebotomists they send out to these blood drives are usually newbies, and my veins like to wander. One time, the person taking my blood stuck me in the left arm, could not get any blood, tried the right arm, could not get any blood, tried the left again, got a slow trickle, and took a “wait and see” approach. It stopped after about a quarter of pint, so they had to toss it and send me home.

The worst experience I ever had, though, was when a phlebotomist stuck me and could not get any blood. Rather than remove the needle and re-stick me, he kept the tip in my arm as he cranked it sideways about 45° until he hit vein. It was the one time I have ever fainted while giving blood. It was like I got punched out by Batman. Eddie was giving blood in the cot next to me and told me after that my face literally turned green!

After that, I told myself I was done. I did go a couple of times just as moral support for friends who still gave, though. One time, a screener asked me why I did not want to give blood, so I told her my story. She told me that I should go in to the blood bank instead. They had a location in town, and things were a lot better when I was not at a blood drive. Making a private donation appointment meant that the phlebotomists are not rushed, and they have more experience since they do it all day, every day. I could also get more attention in case anything went wrong, and they had better goodies and better refreshments for when things went right. That all sounded good to me, so I went to check it out.

The screener did not lie. Everything was much better at the permanent location. Plus they got me to switch to apheresis donations, where they put your blood through a centrifuge and separate out the blood components to do even more good. Turns out, I have really high platelet levels, so they always take units of just that. Plus, with apheresis, the rest of your blood gets put back into you, so you recover faster. This also means that you can donate more often – every two weeks instead of eight weeks like with whole blood.

Before leaving college, I hit the ten gallon mark! But now I am starting all over again at a new blood bank in a new town. I was actually interested in donating today to check my blood pressure, since that could be a factor for my exertion headaches, but I was at a “normal” 129/80. Checking for free while saving ten babies feels good, though!


4 thoughts on “Overdrawn at the Blood Bank

  1. Pingback: Power Tattoo | Batman To Be

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