My First Time Giving Blood

Tuesday, August 08, 2017
When I was twenty one, I found out I was internally bleeding from a tumor. It was the scariest two weeks of my life because I didn't know what was going on, and I was stuck in a hospital being tested day and night. Prior to those two weeks, I had lost a lot of blood during a long span of time (not knowingly). Long story short, I had my first blood transfusion - and let me just say, it's pretty weird to see blood go into you! I felt immediately better, and ever since that day I made myself a promise to give back.

There's something about giving blood that I find really significant, I mean, you are literally giving a part of you to a total stranger. The nursing team at my local Canadian Blood Services were so warm, and made me feel so comfortable for my first time giving blood. Here's some insight on what my experience was like:

There's a couple of things you can do for your first time, you can either pre-book your time online or do a walk in. With either one, set about thirty to forty-five minutes aside, the blood donation part is quick, about ten minutes, however there is a bit of a pre-screening process. Donating blood was interesting, I definitely felt a little "drained" as soon as the blood was flowing out of me.

My nurse tilted the comfy chair back to assist with the flow of blood, at that point it's gravity doing all the work. I didn't realise how important it was to drink lots of water 48 hours before donating, so my flow was a little slow - but not horrible. To assist with the flow, they gave me a stress ball to squeeze and for about ten minutes, you're just relaxing!



Ten minutes later I had a pint filled, I was a little flushed, but other than that I was ready to get up in minutes. The wonderful ladies in the refreshment area brought over juice and snacks, simple sugars to help jump start the replenishing, and they also gave me a pin for my first time donating.

Later that day, I did find myself tired, despite re-hydrating and eating as much as I could. It's not recommend that you lift or do anything vigorous after donating blood, so I just ended up napping that day, and followed up with some cardio the next day at the Milton Velodrome.

A day after donating, you pretty much have your fluids back, but it does take about two months to fully regain your red blood cells. I did make an effort to take in more iron,  which I think played a big part of my recovery, but my strength training did take a hit for a few weeks. As an athlete, I suggest donating after or two to two and half months before a physical event - just to ensure you're still in peak condition for your contest or race.

The whole process was easy, and the finger prick which happens during the screening was the only "difficult" part - and it really was not that bad. Other than that, unless you have a competition coming up in the next two months, then there's really no reason to not donate blood - I for one was quite lucky, coincidently I donated with enough time to be in top condition for Worlds (post to come).

Forty-five minutes of your time, could mean saving three lives. I'm really glad that I gave blood, and I felt even better when I was sent email updates of where my blood was going, especially when I was given the update that it went into someone!

If you have a question about the process or how it impacted me as an athlete, leave them in the comments below and check out https://blood.ca/en 

My experience at Worlds in Rock Hill, SC coming soon.

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