First, a quick warning. This post is about BLOOD. It also has a picture of blood in a bag. If this grosses you out, please don't put yourself through it and scroll past this post!
(they even have a mascot!)
Back when I lived in Ohio, I made it a point to donate blood as often as I felt up to. I'm blood type O+, which always seemed in critical stock in my area, and since I fit the criteria in the States it seemed a necessary evil, even though I'm actually terrified of needles. And blood. Even making this post is kind of making me queasy, but it's for a good cause! Seriously though, I'm a huge baby and cry nearly every time I go- my parents can tell horror stories about me running through doctor's offices to escape the poor nurses tasked with updating my vaccines. Fortunately, I haven't yet run from anyone at blood drives, so I consider that progress.
At any rate, since I moved to Singapore about a year and a half ago I haven't attempted to donate blood, but after seeing a site detailing the current low stocks of type O blood, thought it was about time I gathered my courage again and went for it. It looks like at the moment the stocks have been raised out of the red and into the yellow, which I'm going to attribute to my own fearless bravery
stop laughing now.
(see, be nice. jerks.)
You would think that donating blood anywhere in the world would be relatively the same, but as there are a surprising amount of different criteria and things to keep in mind, I thought making a blog post and hopefully rallying a few more people to go to their nearest blood drive might be worth it. So first, a few of the facts to keep in mind:
- You have to weigh at least 45kg to donate, which is about 100lbs. If you weigh between 45 and 50kg you'll donate a smaller amount, but as the minimum weight for donation in the US is 110lbs, it's quite a big difference.
- For most blood drives, you don't need to register. I walked in at the Pasir Ris East CC blood drive and it was so empty I was literally through in under an hour, and if I wasn't such a baby could have been through in about 30 minutes.
- You can find a listing of upcoming blood drives here or head to one of the few blood banks in the country (Bloodbank@HSA or Bloodbank@Woodlands) any time.
However, they also shorten the process by having you answer that long list of repetitive questions about your health and history yourself through checkboxes, rather than having a nurse ask you or take time answering on a computer. Locals will need to bring along their IC for identification, and although it tells foreigners to bring their passports, my EP was all I needed to get through.
(by this point the terror was just starting to build, you can't read more than a hint of horror in my eyes)
The procedure after that is all normal. You talk to a nurse who checks out your info and makes sure you have no questions, go through the dreaded iron test (actually not bad, I had a great nurse and it didn't even sting a bit) and take a seat on the long chairs to await the donation.
Since it was seriously dead, they were pretty much waiting on me to get there and sit. Luckily it was all the same after that too, my extreme twitching and attempts to keep myself from crying even got the same response here as back in Ohio! That's when it gets different. Usually at this point in Ohio they'd stick me with a needle and I'd spend the next 5-10 minutes trying in vain to ignore the weird feeling and slight discomfort and do my best to not pass out after glancing at the slowly filling bag to my side. But Singapore is a haven for people like me, and instead they actually give you a local pain killer injection first. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you're as terrified of needles as I am, not having to feel the needle in your arm during the process is pretty much the best thing that could possibly happen.
(look, they even gave me a sticker since it was my first time in Singapore!)
I'd been really hitting the water a few days before donating, and I guess it thinned my blood a bit because my bag was almost full after about 2-3 minutes and I had to lie down to not pass out.
(serious, this was just barely more than a minute since starting)
But in the end I did make it through my first blood donation in Singapore and came out alive. I'll probably take a while to get my courage up again, but since it's a minimum 12 weeks between donations here, rather than the 56 days in the States, I've got a while.
Good luck with your donations and feel free to share any experiences giving blood in Singapore or around the world!