By Ava Arteaga
My name is Ava; I’m twenty-two years old, and I am a recent first-time blood donor thanks to the American Red Cross and its incredible volunteers.
Shortly after joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, I realized I had never donated blood myself. I knew blood donations had decreased since the start of the pandemic and decided this would be a great way to begin my volunteer-journey and contribute to those in need of lifesaving blood.
I began this process by booking an appointment online at RedCrossBlood.org. I scheduled an appointment and decided to complete my RapidPass® next— this way I could save time on the day of the blood donation. When the day eventually arrived, I got dropped off at the blood drive by my brother and planned to have a friend pick me up. My mother is a nurse and insisted I not drive myself home.
Once inside, I was greeted by a nice Red Cross volunteer. He could tell I was feeling a bit anxious and chatted with me for a minute. He answered my questions, told me what to expect, and offered positive encouragement. I was directed to another volunteer who greeted me, took down some of my information, and recorded my blood pressure.
Within a few minutes, I was being walked over to the center of the building where several tables were spread out – some of which people were laying on. I was somewhat thrown off by this and asked what that was all about. The volunteer explained that I would be laying down during the blood donation portion to make sure I would be safe and secure in case I suddenly felt faint.
At this point my anxiety heightened a bit more. My biggest fear going into this process was that I’d faint during the donation. I sat down on the table and started imagining how I could politely say that I didn’t think this through; however, the idea of walking out gave me more anxiety than the idea of donating. So, I stayed put. I also started to quietly cry.
Laying back and staring at the blurry ceiling, I heard footsteps approaching me until I saw a figure in my peripheral vision. It was a nurse I hadn’t met yet. She started talking to me with a big smile and empathetic eyes. She assured me that I would be alright and tried to rid my nerves with jokes and laughter.
Pretty quickly, it worked. She had a nurse’s touch! She told me that she’d be keeping an eye on me and that she would let the phlebotomist know to do the same. The phlebotomist, who was just as comforting and uplifting, performed the blood extraction in no time. Within 10 minutes, I was enjoying snacks and refreshments. I even hopped on my computer and started working while I waited for my ride to arrive.
My anxiety had absolutely transformed into relief and joy. With the help of the American Red Cross volunteers and staff, I successfully donated blood for the first time. My worst fears never came to fruition. After it was all said and done, I felt fine. Besides feeling a little tired and weak, all 115 pounds of me was in top notch shape. The entire process lasted only an hour, and I was able to continue my day normally. I am already looking forward to my next blood donation!
If fear or anxiety is holding you back from donating blood, my advice is to let the staff and volunteers of the American Red Cross take care of you so that you can take care of a patient in need. Thank you, Red Cross! This month, I hope you resist those worries and make an appointment to donate blood.