“You matter. Sometime. Somewhere. Someone needs your help.” – The National Orthopedic Center
“Does it hurt?” I asked Christine, a medical technologist from The National Orthopedic Center, as I lay on the folding bed. She looked straight into my eyes and smiled. “Yes, it does,” she sensed my abnormal breathing, “but the pain won’t last that long.”
“Just relax,” she reassured.
She tied a skyblue rubber band just above my elbow. Then, she rubbed an alcohol, followed my an intiseptic on the skin where she spotted the vein. “How quickly we can finish this depends on the flow of your blood,” she explained while she fixed my right arm in place and put a stress ball on my palm. “Normally, it takes ten to fifteen minutes,” she added.
I have never been hospitalized after my seventh birthday so I am not used to the sights of tubes and needles, although I am not really afraid of blood. In fact, I like sucking my blood when I accidentally get cuts in the kitchen.
It was my first time to donate blood, something I have always wanted to do since 2008 when I was in college. But I reckoned, I was not that brave enough then. Recently, after I launched my self reinvention project that involves sharing a part of myself to people in need, I have made a strong decision to be a blood donor.
“Whenever a person donates blood out of compassion, to add life to the one in the brink of life and death, that is LOVE.” – Liquids of Love
Christine seemed impressed after hearing my story. She encouraged me to talked more, perhaps to distract me from my thoughts of pain. When the 450 ml bag was ready, she took the end of the tube and uncapped it. The needle that was slightly thick and measured about two inches glittered under the bright light of ABS-CBN’s Studio 10.
She asked me to take a deep breath, then I felt the needle pricked into my vein. It ached, but the pain was not as poignant as I expected it to be. Twenty seconds have passed and the pain dissipated. I did not recognize any more feeling on my arm, especially when I saw my royal blood flowing through the tube.
In the Philippines, more than two thousand blood units are transfused to patients on any given day according to Philippine Red Cross (PRC). The PRC supplies approximately one-fourth of the country’s national blood requirements. The need for blood is always there and it can manifest during a critical surgery, after an accident, or in the treatment of diseases that require blood components.
Blood donation not only ensures a constant, reliable, and steady flow of the blood line, but it also provides health benefits, to wit:
- A physical check up of your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin, and weight. The process also educates the donor of his/her blood type. (My blood type is B+.)
- It enhances the production of new red blood cells.
- It reduces the chances of ischemic heart diseases (beginning of heart problems) as frequent donations (every three and four months for males and females, respectively) reduce the accumulated and unwanted iron load from the body (American Red Cross).
- It saves lives and provides a sense of fulfillment, an important component of a happy lifestyle.
During the process of my blood donation, my eyes were closed and I heard Christine giving me an update once in a while on the remaining volume of blood needed to fill the bag. But prior to this, I was getting despondent at the possibility of not being able to donate because I would be running a half-marathon on the following morning, which was about 13 hours away. When I heard the doctor’s assurance that I was good to go as long as I sleep well and take plenty of fluids afterwards, my spirit was elevated to the seventh heaven.
When Christine handed to me my sealed blood, my heart was beating with exuberant joy. Surprisingly, I did not feel weakened; instead, I felt stronger and it gave me a sanguine disposition to look forward to what else life has in store for me. I knew that sometime, somewhere this part of myself shall save or prolong a life. It was a mission accomplished! Looking at the tiny wound where my blood had once trickled, I uttered a silent vow to make blood letting a yearly happiness activity.
This important milestone of my life was made possible by DZMM’s “Dugong Alay, Dugtong Buhay,” a blood letting project held on the 10th of July 2015 and which formed part of their anniversary celebration. For more information on how to donate blood, please visit the website of Philippine Red Cross.