January 21, 2020

By JAKE ROBINSON

It can be rewarding to be “blood brothers” with a stranger.
Canadian Blood Services held a blood donor clinic at Forward Baptist Church in Cambridge on Jan. 20. The clinic had a turnout of 65 people, including me.
As a person who has never given blood before, I was curious about the donation process and decided the best way for me to learn, was by doing it.
Having no idea what to expect when I arrived for my scheduled donation, I nonchalantly drove to the church wondering what was going to happen. As I walked into the fellowship room, I remained calm but curious. I was greeted by a man at the sign-in table as well as a few other associates and was recognized as “the guy with the camera.”
The room was set up in different sections; chairs with machines in the middle, a refreshment station to the left, cubicles and what looked like a polling station to the right and a table where they tested the donor’s iron level behind the registry booth.
I was first sent to get my iron tested to make sure my iron level met the minimum requirement of 125 grams per litre (g/l). The lady at the table pricked my finger and placed a drop of blood in a small glass container which she slid into a machine. My iron level measured 160 g/l.
After passing the first test, I was sent to the section of tables that looked like a polling station to fill out a personal survey. Wondering why it was taking me longer than everyone else to answer the questions, I realized that I neglected to obey the “stop here” request that was written halfway down the page.
I now made my way to the cubicle where they re-asked the questions that I wasn’t supposed to answer. After answering those, and some other questions, I was ready to donate my blood.
There is a constant demand for blood donations across the country. Canadian Blood Services communications specialist Veronica Magee said they need to collect 915,200 units during 2012-13 to have enough to respond to patients’ needs.
There are eight different blood types and some are in higher demand than others. The rarest of blood types is AB- which only 0.5 per cent of Canadians have; the most common is O+ which is in 39 per cent of Canadians. Another blood type which is highly in demand is O- because it is compatible with all other blood types.
As I sat at the station and got hooked up to the wires, the nurse informed me they take approximately 500 mL. which is a 10th of the blood that a person has in their body. After donating my blood, and feeling a little woozy, I was escorted to the refreshment table where I had cookies and beverages with some of the other donors. One lady mentioned that she has to donate often because she has a high iron level in her blood and donating helps keep it at a normal level. While sitting at the table, I also received some preparation tips from the experienced donors. They mentioned that it’s best to eat and drink a lot 24 hours before an appointment.
Magee also added to the preparation list before donating.
“To give blood you need the following: a piece of ID with full name and signature or full name and photograph, be 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in general good health and feeling well on the day you would like to donate,” she said. “A donor can give every 56 days, which is six times per year.”
Chris van Doorn, community development co-ordinator, said there is 37 mobile donation clinics scheduled in Cambridge this year.
The next day of donation in Waterloo Region will be Feb. 11 at Heritage College and Seminary located on Holiday Inn Drive in Cambridge, as well as one on Feb. 13 at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Kitchener.
To find other dates visit www.blood.ca or call 1-800 2 DONATE to book an appointment.