Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Blood Donation Story

Back in high school, when I turned 16, one of the first things I wanted to do was donate blood. There were blood donating events every few months in my school, so it wouldn't have been a problem for me to get access. The only thing stopping me was my mom; she didn't let me. I was an athlete, and she didn't want me fainting during practice. I was really disappointed because I'm always all about helping out others and I'd always see my friends skipping class to donate blood, and of course, get free food, and I felt like I was missing out on something that I should at least attempt and experience.

I came to Penn State, and I've noticed there frequently has been blood donations going on, but I always just passed by the tables. But when the whole PSU vs MSU thing started, that's when I felt my cue was. Of course I donated blood because I've always wanted to; hey, it's college, that means independence right? Trying new things? Which means my mom actually doesn't know that I donated blood... but another few reasons why I wanted to donate blood was because of free t-shirts, free pizza, and I wanted to be a part of something to beat MSU. You see, my older brother's a Michigan State student.

The first week went by and I didn't/couldn't donate. I went the whole week making up excuses; I had to workout that day or go to dance practice. But there was a day when my friend and I were going to donate, but we just never did because we had to study. Then I told myself, next week, I'm gonna do it. Sunday night I made an appointment to donate and Monday came. I asked my friend if he could come with me because I was super nervous for some reason. I'm not scared of needles nor blood. My friend said he would come with me.

On the way to the HUB to donate, I was telling him how scared I was and he told me things would be okay. I was still a little nervous.

I have this habit of dancing to my ipod in the middle of the street, which is exactly what I did.
My friend and I are both dancers, so he joined in as well.
We ended up having a mini jam session in the lawn next to Thomas.
After that, I wasn't nervous at all.

Got to the HUB, checked-in, read the packet, got my free tshirt [yessssss it's so pretty], went in, waited, got called, sat down with the doctor, he snapped some type of needle on my arm and took a drop of my blood which hurt like a beast, and he actually told me that that was the worst part of the whole process, answered 50 questions, waited, he escorted me to my little bed.

I lied down and put my headphones on, and I asked my friend if I could hold his hand.
Few minutes went by, the doctor put the needle in, it hurt but the pain went away.
I was lying there and got bored quickly, so of course I started dancing..but you can't really dance while you're lying I was wiggling..more like.
A few minutes after that, my friend decided to pull out his camera and start taking pictures of me donating blood.
Then my doctor asked if we'd like him to take a picture of us, and we thought, why not.
My friend gave the doctor his camera, and what was supposed to be just one picture turned out to a whole photo shoot.
I was lying there, having my blood sucked out of me, while the doctor was saying "work it for the camera."
Definitely made me less freaked out about the whole blood donating thing.
Then my friend and I played a game..and that helped time pass by too.
About 10 minutes later, it was over.
I just wanted the needle to be pulled out because that's the only thing I hate about needles; it hurts.

My doctor told me I shouldn't work out nor dance for the rest of the day..and I thought he was crazy.

He escorted me to the food tables, which was very rewarding, I must say.
Those cookies were SOOO GOOODDD!!! and the volunteers kept asking me if I was okay and if I wanted anything else to eat.
I felt special.
I looked at the club list they gave me, and I saw 2 names from the people in my club - RAM Squad
I put down my name and put a smiley next to it, and my friend called me a weirdo.

Overall, it was an awesome experience and I'm glad I finally got to do it!

Thanks to the awesome doctor I had, and the volunteers for being so friendly. All the help made everything so much easier for me :]

Why I Give Blood

My name is Matt Avery. I am a senior and the Webmaster for the Student Red Cross Club. I am currently one donation away from having donated one gallon of of blood. That's a huge milestone for me because I used to have a huge fear of both needles and blood. This fear kept me from volunteer opportunities at my high school blood drives. When I got to college, I continued to avoid all things blood. Finally, in the spring of sophomore year I decided to conquer my fear and donate blood. Much to my surprise it was extremely easy and painless.  This was such a good experience that the following year I decided to join the Penn State Student Red Cross Club and instantly fell in love with the work we do and the people that make up the club. Countless hours of volunteer hours and seven donations later, I have successfully conquered my fears.

My most recent blood donation held extra significance for me as it was the first productive unit of blood collected for the Penn State - Michigan State Blood Donor Challenge. It was especially quick compared to my previous donations, which made the process even easier. Though the satisfaction of being able to say I was the first unit is great, nothing can top the feeling that I helped save peoples lives. I may never meet the recipients of my blood, but that does not lessen the importance of the act. It's truly wonderful knowing that by giving up a minuscule amount of my time, I'm able to have a huge impact on the life of another.

For The Glory!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Keep On Trying!

Hi everyone, my name is Rino and I am the president of the Student Red Cross Club at Penn State. I wanted to tell you a little about my experiences as a blood donor, to encourage you to keep coming back after an unsuccessful attempt.

In my high school we had an annual blood drive. I decided I wanted to help someone out, so I signed up to donate. I have so much blood in my body, I figured it wouldn't hurt to give some away. After checking in, a nurse took me to a cubicle area where she took my blood pressure and temperature. Then came the iron prick... Much to my surprise, my iron was too low. No donating for me, and because we only had an annual blood drive, I had to wait another year.

Senior year I came back ready. I had eaten more ground beef than I can imagine to pump my iron up. Luckily I passed the iron prick, but to my dismay, I found out my veins are really small. It definitely didn't help that I wasn't very hydrated. With some difficulty the nurse was able to get the needle into my arm, but after filling the bag about halfway, my vein collapsed. The nurse had to take the needle out of my arm and my half-filled bag couldn't be used.

I was upset but still extremely determined to donate, next time I just had to drink a lot of water! Once I came to college I knew I wanted to try again, I was excited!! ........ BUT then the third day I moved into my dorm room freshman year, my roommate and I woke up to a bat in our room. a BAT.. Seriously? and because they didn't know if it had bit us, we both had to get 7 rabies shots on our hips and arms. This meant a deferral of one year. Who thought giving blood would be so difficult?

Throughout freshman year I volunteered and tried to recruit others to try to make up for my disappointing deferral. I marked on my calender when I would be eligible again. When sophomore year rolled around I scheduled my appointment right away. THIS TIME would be the time. When the day came, I was so nervous. I was well-hydrated and iron-rich. After I passed my iron test I felt some relief. Then when the nurse got the needle in my arm I felt more relief. But it wasn't until the nurse told me that I was finished, that I was relieved and relaxed. I did it!!

Since then I have donated SEVEN more times (that's a whole GALLON!!). I have been deferred for iron several times, but that doesn't keep me away; I come back after eating more iron-rich foods. Because my veins are small, I have to make sure to drink a lot of water a few days before hand, and the nurse usually has to keep a blood pressure cuff on me while I donate. You  might ask, why did I and still go through so much of a hassle to donate blood?

My honest answer is that my hassle is worth saving someone's life. If I can give a person another chance to survive, a chance to live a couple days longer, it is totally worth it. I may never meet the people I donate blood to, but I know that I am making a difference in someone's life. I think of how someday I may need blood myself or my loved ones may need blood, and that is enough motivation for me to keep trying.

I encourage all of you to keep donating. KEEP TRYING! Don't give up! Someone's life is counting on your donation...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Welcome to the new SRCC DR Blog!

So what is this whole "Give Life... For Life" thing anyway? You've (hopefully) seen it at the PSU-MSU Challenge Drives so far and have maybe even gone to our website to mark off a slot on your electronic Donor Rewards Card.

"Give Life... For Life" is a new donor retention program started by the Penn State Student Red Cross Club this year to encourage donors to keep coming back to donate, as well as to thank our regular donors. The program so far consists of two different components: the Donor Rewards Card and this new blog.

The Donor Rewards Card is like an electronic version of those punch cards you get at coffee shops or restaurants, where a slot is marked off each time you return. Once you get a certain number marked off, you get a reward. In this case, if you return once, twice, or three times to donate blood throughout the academic year, you'll be entered into a particular category to win some really cool prizes (like an iPad or flat-screen TV if you donate 4 times!).

And this blog is here to let donors record their donation experiences. Are you a first-time donor? Were you nervous about giving blood? Did it go better and more smoothly than you expected? Or are you a seasoned blood donor? Did you enjoy chatting with our awesome club members? Did you win a raffle prize? Let us know how everything went! Send an email with your blog post to

Hopefully these programs encourage you to continue to be a part of the life-saving services that the American Red Cross offers, so that you really can give the gift of life... for life.