I am a giver of blood. I don't know exactly how much blood I've given - I've got a pin somewhere with a number on it (hold on, T is going to look for the pin).
The past couple of years, I haven't been able to donate because we have vacationed in areas that are "malarial zones" and the Red Cross wouldn't accept my blood. I donated a couple of months ago and it was the first time I'd donated in like, two years.
T is back with the info: TWO GALLONS. I have donated over two gallons of blood. Think of a jug of milk. Now think of two jugs of milk. That's how much blood I have donated. That makes me feel good :) I thought it was three gallons; I might have a three gallon pin around here somewhere. I'll look into it and get back to you.
You can donate blood every 56 days, so today was blood donating day. The tech asked me if I wanted to donate double red blood cells today and explained the process a little, so I agreed to do that. You can read about the process here, but I'll try to explain.
In whole blood donation, the technician will sterilize your arm with iodine, then they stick you with a needle and about seven minutes later, you have filled a pint bag and you're done.
In a double red cell donation, the sterilization still happens, and so does the sticking with the needle, except the needle is a lot smaller than in whole blood donation. The difference is that you are connected to a machine that separates the red blood cells from the plasma and the platelets. When the red blood cells are separated, the machine pumps your platelets and plasma, along with a little saline solution, back into you.
It takes about 30 minutes for the process to be complete - that is, for them to get the amount of blood they need. It might still be a pint, but it's a pint of pure red blood cells, so you are actually giving them the equivalent of two whole blood donations. I won't be able to donate again for 112 days - double the amount of time between donations.
I don't usually have any problems after I donate blood. I am a little more thirsty and a little tired, but that's it. Today I felt just a little dizzy this afternoon, but nothing to worry about. I've been taking it easy and I feel fine.
Donating blood is something that is easy for me to do and I believe it is a good thing. I have known people, including someone very dear to me, who have had blood transfusions and I am glad to give me nice blood to people who need it.
See you tomorrow!