So I really like to donate blood. It may seem weird. There’s something satisfying about going to the blood bank that I have been going to for years, first with my father, and then alone once I turned 16 and was able to go by myself, not only because I then had the freedom of my own set of wheels, but also because that is the age at which one can donate. At the Blood Bank I go to, The Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, (CHOMP) Blood Center, the nurses are so sweet, they know the regular donors by name and always have a cheery disposition. Also, after donating, they offer you carrot cake and fruit juice. If you’re a “Four Seasons Donor,” meaning you donate at least 4 times a year, you get a membership card and they give you prizes at every fourth donation. Maybe a t-shirt, a license plate holder, coffee thermos, coffee mug or canvas bag. We have all of these at my house as my dad has donated 11+ gallons. In case you are not familiar with how much blood that is, or how long that took to do, each time one donates blood, he/she gives a pint. There are 8 pints in a gallon. You cannot give more than a pint of blood every 8 weeks (56 days), or, if so inclined, you can do an erythrocytapheresis, where you donate essentially double the amount of red blood cells via a filtration process (apheresis). In this process, the unused components, the white blood cells, are returned to the donor (you) and the red blood cells are taken. In this method, you can donate once every 16 weeks. Assuming you do the traditional blood donation, once every 8 weeks, that is roughly 6.5 times a year. Also, you have to take into consideration health. When you donate, they are not going to want your blood if you are some sort of infection or are taking an antibiotic to cure an infection. Remember, your blood is going to somebody who is probably in compromised health. Your blood pressure has to be healthy, this varies by sex, physical fitness, diet, etc. A normal body temperature is required, confirming you are in good health. And lastly, they check your hematocrit. This is more commonly referred to as your iron level. I have been deferred several times due to low iron levels and it is really disappointing. It does not necessarily mean that you are anemic, but I am usually borderline.
In highschool, I started coordinating the Blood Drives at my highschool. They would set up a mobile blood bank in either the library or the gym, for a couple of weeks prior to the blood drive, I would go around signing students up and even publishing articles in our school paper about the benefits of donating blood, and what foods to eat prior to the blood drive to ensure blood iron levels were high enough for donation. This tends to be a problem with vegetarians and women.
It is a problem with me. I went to donate blood two weeks ago with some friends, they both donated and I was deferred due to inadequate iron levels. I made a big effort to eat meat regularly, that is difficult for me as I am not a big fan. Especially lately as I have been road-tripping a lot and crashing on my brother’s couch. Eating lots of snack food and not proper meals. I went again today, and again, inadequate iron levels. So now I am really going to make an effort. Spinach, prunes, kale, collard greens, figs and apricots here I come! Yes, I will work on chicken and eggs too, but I prefer the fruit/vegie option. Maybe I will even post up some recipes of things I make before I go back to try to donate on Friday.