Opinion: My rejection story

LAUREN BENCHOFF, Staff Writer

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As a person who has been afraid of needles from a young age, I had a rather aggressive idea that if I donated blood, my fear of needles would eventually fade or cease within my first donation.

Since I was a kid, my mom donated blood every 3-5 months. I thought she was just an overzealous blood donor, giving back blood and getting those unlimited (technically not but who’s counting) packs of Oreos and juices. When I got older, I realized that she donated because her blood type is B-, a rare blood type that only 1 out of 67, or 1.5% of the world population have.

Seeing that my mom was donating for her own personal cause, I attempted to donate blood again, and again, and again. Within three years I have attempted to donate seven times, only to be turned away each time for a new reason.

So, to prevent you from going through the same process I did only to be denied, let me teach you a thing or two about donating blood.

Piercings

The first time I went to a blood drive, I was turned away because I had gotten a second ear piercing using a piercing gun. Basically, any of the quick piercing kiosks in the mall, or stores like Claire’s and Piercing Utopia, use piercing guns. Because of the reusable nature of the gun, and the potential for spreading disease or infection, the Red Cross has a 12 month waiting period to donate. 

The Red Cross does not however, have a problem with a single-use needle. So, if you know that your piercing was done by a single non-reusable needle, you’re in the clear. Otherwise it will be another year until you can donate.

Shots

The second time I was sent away was because I had received a shot two weeks before the donation drive. With shots, there are various wait times. Naturally, I received a shot that had a 21 day wait period as opposed to one with a two week wait period. If you have received a shot within one to two months, you should look to see which wait period your vaccine requires.

Breakfast

One morning I woke up to my mom yelling “Get in the car, we’re donating blood.” Nice. Who doesn’t love spontaneous blood drives at 6:00 am on a Sunday?  Five minutes into our arrival I was turned away after realizing that since we left the house so quickly, I hadn’t had breakfast. Because you’re getting a little over a pint of blood removed from your body, eating is definitely a necessity to prevent dizziness, nausea, and fainting. If you want to take one thing away from this article, I hope that it’s making sure you’re eating something in the morning, or at least one to two hours before donating, all for your own health and safety.

Low Iron Levels

Fourth time’s the charm right? Nope, not for Lauren. This time it was a blood drive at GHS, and after passing all the usual questions that would rule me out, I was excited to finally be able to donate (I don’t know why it’s exciting it just is.) After the finger prick however, my joy left with the drop of blood from my finger as the lady told me my iron levels were too low.

An easy way to prevent low iron levels is to eat meats, such as steak or chicken, spinach, beans, seafood, and peas, among many foods. Alas for all you girls out there, another reason your iron levels may be low is because of your period. There really isn’t a way around that one, and your only option is to wait it out until next time. Yeah losing blood sucks- and not in the voluntary way.

Travel

Traveling has probably been the main problem for me and blood donation as I have been denied twice because of it. It’s been particularly problematic for me because usually when I go paces, some kind of virus outbreak occurs and I end up being stuck in a country of deathly ill people.

Want context? I was asked to stay out of school for a week after being in Mexico during the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico City, and I was also visiting Mexico and the Virgin Islands during the 2015-2016 Zika virus epidemic. Was the tan worth the potential risk of violently ill viruses? Yes. So with that being said, many other countries are fine and risk free, but make sure that when you’re traveling, you’re not carrying back with you anything that may casue the next pandemic.

Low Blood Pressure

This last one threw me off, I’m not going to lie. At the latest blood drive I was turned down for low blood pressure. I always thought that low blood pressure was something old people got because they had been bed ridden for years (think “The Buckets” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

Good news is that it’s not entirely unhealthy, meaning I could have just stood up too fast before getting my blood pressure taken, and in all honestly I don’t have much tips for your to improve yourself on within this area.

Though I am clearly unlucky and also irritated that I can’t donate my blood, the fact is that all the reasons I was denied from donating blood were all very valid reasons, and if not for others safety, for my own.

When donating or thinking of being a potential donor, please be honest with your answers because the condition of your blood can affect the lives of those receiving it.

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