The experience of donating blood was altogether interesting, riveting, and absolutely wonderful.

student sitting to get blood drawn

When I donated my blood to the Hoxworth Blood Center on Aug. 31, it was the very first time I had ever given blood for a blood drive. The experience was altogether interesting, riveting, and absolutely wonderful.

Before heading into the old auxiliary gym for the appointment, all I could think about was needles. They terrify me, and always have since I was a child--from tattoos, to vaccines, to finger pricks. So I was already on edge heading to my appointment.

As I walk into the gym, I automatically get the smell of latex gloves, I hear calm nurses’ voices, I see chairs with blood hoses connected to them, and I feel the cold air as I walk past a fan keeping one of the students cooled down as they were giving their blood. I could feel my heart drop as I realized what I was about to do.

I walked to the desk to get checked in, and filled out some paperwork, which was incredibly long, making my anxiety rise higher as the minutes passed by. When it was finally my turn, I got called over to a nurse who needed to check my blood sugar, and check for low iron. I didn’t realize I needed my finger pricked, which caused a whole new array of unease.

I then got called to take a seat in the chair where I would be getting my blood drawn. When I started talking to the nurse, I felt a wave of tranquility rush over me. He was extremely patient and calm with me, considering I was a hot mess with emotion blowing over the roof. He eventually put a strong band on my arm, providing more blood to the vein he would choose to take blood from. The puncture of the needle was mainly uncomfortable, but not exactly painful. Once the blood started pumping out, and into the hoses, I got really confident because I felt completely fine. On the other hand, two minutes later, I could feel the warmth of the blood through the hoses that were lying on my arm, and I immediately felt nauseous. I started seeing stars and the gym seemed to get darker. My fingers felt tingly and numb, and I felt lightheaded. My nurse looked at me, and knew right away that I was going to pass out any minute. He put two cold wet towels on my forehead and my neck and gave me a Gatorade, hoping that would calm down the nausea. It didn’t work at first, so he eventually got a small little package of ammonia. He opened it and told me to smell it, which almost right away got rid of my symptoms.

Heading to the end of the process, as the nurse was about to unhook me from the hoses, I kept focusing on a banner by the welcome desk which said, “Thank you for saving lives.” I then came to the conclusion that donating blood wasn’t just a flex, it didn’t mean you’re strong and brave; it meant so much more than that. I realized that it was an opportunity for me to save a life. It was an occasion for me to help someone in need, and that brought a smile to my face.

I suggest donating blood, for everyone. It is an uncomfortable and nerving process, but it is thrilling, and the reason behind it makes up for the scary needles, and nausea. I definitely will donate again, just to save a life.