I thought it was just going to be like having my blood drawn, but in a greater quantity and with more precautions with it.
So I walked to the gym of my school (where the blood drive was happening) with my other friend, who was also planning on giving blood. I didn't know what to expect, so I was pretty nervous, but I pretended not to be.
My friend wasn't able to donate because she didn't weight enough for her height. I certainly didn't have that problem, so I was able to go on to the next step.
Then my finger was pricked to make sure everything was alright, and I had to show my arms anyway. My iron count was a little low, so I had to be pricked twice. It didn't hurt as much as I thought that it would; there was a sharp twinge and I was fine.
What followed was an extremely detailed questionnaire about where I've been in the past year, my sex life, etc. This was the stage where people were turned away for extremely stupid reasons, like getting a tattoo or piercing, travelling or being a sexually active gay male. Luckily, I passed that test too.
So I was able to donate blood after all. There was a table for me to lay down on, which fortunately meant that I didn't have to see the blood fill the bag. The volunteers said I could listen to music, and I did, but my friend tried to distract me as well.
The phlebotomist disinfected the area she was going to inject me with and then I felt the sensation of the needle entering my skin. Needles are usually more painful in thought rather than in action, but she kind of jammed it up there in a way that really caused a sharp, excruciating pain.
It wasn't all that bad as the blood was being drained. The presence of the needle wasn't painful, but uncomfortable. I wanted to rip it out the whole time, but resisted the urge. I stared at the ceiling and kept gripping the foam ball to help with circulation.
When I got up, I did feel pretty lightheaded, so I had to lay down on the floor and drink some water. One girl felt so lightheaded she had to drink multiple bottles of water.
I feel pretty good about what I've done, knowing that my blood will help someone (whether directly or indirectly through research). It's a pretty empowering feeling. All in all, it wasn't nearly as dramatic or terrible as I was afraid it might be.
Blood donation is so important because it impacts the lives of so many people. All sorts of people in all sorts of situations need blood, people who have a variety of different blood types. That's why blood donation is so important. I'm so proud to be able to help with that.