Friday, September 23, 2005

Blood Letting

I donated blood for the first time this week.

The Rotary Club of Delhi had organized a blood donation camp at my college on Wednesday - a big, invitingly open white tent in the middle of the front lawn. The Rotary Club members then wandered around the college, collaring hapless students and asking them why they weren't out there - in there, rather - donating blood.

I'd been wanting to donate blood for ages, but hadn't cared enough to actually go and find a place to donate. Not that I'm all selfless and generous, mind you - I just felt that it was an adventure that I ought to undertake as a part of turning eighteen. Anyway, I was delighted at the opportunity. So I tried to get my friends to come along with me, but they refused outright, giving reasons ranging from the practical ("Suppose they use infected needles?") to the plain ridiculous ("Tujhe pata nahi hai, blood donate karne se kala ban jata hai!")

Finally, suddenly infected by the Rotarians' zeal, a friend of mine agreed to come along with me. We went to the big white tent. It was like entering a circus. There were people all around - the doctors, the Rotarians in their blue caps and the students from Pathways World School, who were supposed to be helping the Rotarians. Also, of course, students from my college who'd wandered in, wondering what this was all about. We were supposed to register first and then fill out a form that had questions like "Have you ever had Malaria/Typhoid/Jaundice/A-Dozen-Other-Diseases-Whose Names-I-Can't-Remember?" and "Have you taken any medication/vaccination/alcohol in the last forty-eight hours?" and "Have you ever had sex with multiple partners?" (huh?) and "Are you HIV-positive?" (double huh?)

Then we had our haemoglobin levels and our BP checked, and, when we passed those tests, were given one plastic bag each, with tubes coming out of them. After that, we were finally allowed to enter the place where the actual blood letting was happening - a huge room inside the tent, with a couple of dozen beds, on which people were lying with their arms connected via tubes to rapidly filling bags of blood.

A rather nice doctor took my form and made me lie down on a bed. Then she put a cloth thing around my arm and asked me to make a fist. She said it in Hindi (muthi or some word like that) and, me being me, I didn't understand what she said, so I folded my arm at the elbow. So, of course, she thought that I was nervous. She smiled at me very reassuringly and said, "First time?" and I smiled back and said, "Yeah." She was even nicer to me after that.

She put the syringe in - still have a hole by my elbow to prove it - and gave me a sponge ball to squeeze, I suppose so that the blood could get pumped out faster. So I lay there like that for some time, squeezing the little ball regularly and trying not to look at the sun that was shining into my eyes through the white cloth of the tent. It was rather nice and peaceful.

She came by regularly to check on me. When 350 ml had been pumped out, she pulled the syringe out of my hand and put a white gauze thing inside my elbow. I lay there for some more time, again trying not to stare at the sun. And that was that.

She made me get up some time after that and asked me if I was feeling okay. I felt perfectly fine, which, to be honest, was rather disappointing; I'd expected at least something, but no. Apparently, I'm too healthy.

And then, to the best part of the whole experience - the free food! Let's see - we had soft drinks (I had three glasses), orange juice (one packet), baby samosas (three), puffs (one), chips (innumerable), cup cake (one), apples (one), banana (none, I hate them). Plus one free gift, a clock, which I promptly donated to a classmate of mine.

All in all, the actual donating part was the least painless. Standing in line to get my form submitted was, in fact, more of a hassle. And, of course, the only sickly feeling I had at the end was from all the overeating!
• • •


Pradyot said...

Hey these Rotary guys visit our campus more often than we visit our labs but I have never donated blood till date because I don't like to wait in line to get poked with needles, needles hurt and I am too selfish to give away anything personal, like blood for example, for free or in exchange for food. :)
And did I read it right?? You were given those plastic bags with pipes?? Aren't these bags supposed to be sterile and handled with latex gloves on!

Jade said...

Pradyot: The needle didn't hurt much, just one stab and nothing else. I'm not sure if the bags themselves are meant to be sterile, but, yes, we were given those individual bags.

And, btw, you're up at ungodly hours, aren't you? :P

clemenza said...


"("Suppose they use infected needles?") to the plain ridiculous ("Tujhe pata nahi hai, blood donate karne se kala ban jata hai!")"

those were the words said by 2nd year degree students.... OMG..

how can people be so crazy...or dumb....???

congrats for donating blood. its absolutly harmless [i think u know tat..tats the reason u donated.]

personally, i used to have a thingi for needles..thats the reason, i tried to donate blood. take the fear by the horns...after that..its no stopping me...its fun...its pains a bit..but then...pain is like fine gets better with time...

PS: all the bags...all the needles..all are sterile...people who donate blood need not worry abt at...please do spread the word that blood donation is good and safe.

witnwisdumb said...

Interesting, I should go donate blood too, sometime. "I'd expected at least something, but no. Apparently, I'm too healthy." :))

Way to go, Jasmine.

witnwisdumb said...

Hello again! Just got back here from In my opinion, the short stories you have written are better. Anybody can write a short story, if all it involves is briefly describing an event (which is not to say that ALL the stories on that blog were like that, but most were unremarkable). Your stories, on the other hand, had the extra element(s) - be it suspense, horror, or drama. Good job. You might try more of those ;)

Kaala Kavva said...

good yaar
ive never been able to muster up enough courage to donate blood...
for 2 reasons..
2.infected needles

i had 4 blood tests done, and i know how bad it feels to ley your blood go out....
but kudos 2 u

Domesticated Bachelor said...

free food,,, no wonder why you went...*GRIN*:-P

Ravi Handa said...

i m goin to do it the day they give butter chicken as free food.

Pradyot said...

See techj confirms that bags need to be sterile... and thus should not be handled by the donator him/her self.
I am up at all time... godly or devilish... I am insomniac.

Jade said...

please do spread the word that blood donation is good and safe.

Actually, I read an article in The Hindu today that has me a bit worried. It said that 63% of injections in India are unsafe. If even injections are that unsafe, I can only wonder about how much higher the risk of infection when donating blood is.. :|

witnwisdumb: Thanks, but I don't think you should even be comparing her writing with mine, mainly because hers is so much better. And she deals with real life issues - stuff that I don't believe I have the maturity to comment on. Still, I'm thinking about your suggestion and the idea that I had. :)

ze chapaater!: There really isn't much pain. Seriously. One quick jab and the needle is in. As for the infected needle part, well.. I'm worried myself. :)

Joker: Yes, you learnt that the hard way, didn't you? :P

Handa: Hm.. I think I'll pass along that message to the Rotarians. I'm sure they'll arrange it, just to get your blood. :P

Pradyot: I don't think you understand. What I'm talking about are the bags into which the blood is transferred. It's the needles that have to be sterile, right? And those were (hopefully). :)

Tipsy Topsy said...

Its sad to see people like Prad, Handa, MS don't donate blood. tsk tsk!!!

great going Jasmine. I donated blood every year in college and even when i was working. and yes, food is a huge incentive. :D plus the gift..i got a calculator once and a mug another time!

Domesticated Bachelor said...

you guys get gifts? We are given one packet of juice and sent on our way... oh well look at it this way... people here neednt be lured in to donate.. they do it on their own... :-):-P

Jade said...

Topsy: Yes, guys are such cowards, aren't they? They probably faint at the sight of blood.. :P

Joker: One measly pack of juice? Poor you.. :D And, hey, the free food was NOT the reason I did it. I donated blood out of the pureness of my heart, wanting to save the lives of other AB+ people. Okay? Okay. :P

Nishant Ramachandran said...

Most of the blood banks across the country are facing sharp shortages. A good deed indeed.

Jade said...

Nishant: Oh, hey! You're back! Missed your comments here. :)

La La Land Desi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

La La Land Desi said...

College and school blood letting sessions are a stroke of genius.. when I was in college/ school and the red cros van came round.. the guys would line up to show how macho they were and girls line up to show how socially responsible they were.. Occassionally one would swoon and get oodles of attention from the opposit sex.. stroke of genius I tell you!