“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” ~Samuel Johnson
Some people say there’s no such thing as a selfless act—that any time we do something to help another person, we get something in return, even if it’s just a warm fuzzy feeling.
One fine day, I came across a poster in college “Whatever you do in life, always give 100%, unless you’re donating blood.” The poster had additional details about a blood donation drive. I chuckled at the initial thought and then felt the “inner tug” to go and donate blood. I signed up for it.
I began to prepare myself mentally, so that nothing would take me by surprise.
I read up on articles on the dos and don’ts prior to blood donation and general instructions. I was pleased to read that blood donation is beneficial to the donor also, as it:
-Reduces the chance of heart diseases.
-Enhances the production of new Red Blood Cells.
-Blood donation sheds extra calories and reduces blood cholesterol level. After donating blood, the number of blood cells in our body decreases. This stimulates the bone marrow to produce new, fresh red blood cells in order to replenish the loss.
Initially I was apprehensive about donating blood. The mind plays strange tricks sometimes. When we are not extremely sure and confident if we really want to do something, life will give us a hundred reasons to not do it. These thoughts nagged me night and day initially:
What if I pass out after donating blood? What if I slip into a coma? What if I wake up in a bathtub filled with ice, minus one kidney? What if a wannabe Ice truck Killer shows up and picks me as his next victim. (Yes, a Dexter reference :P).
After a quick Google search and talking to people who had already donated blood, these thoughts vanished into thin air.
Donating blood is a very safe process. Each donor’s blood is collected through new, sterile butterfly needles that is used once and then discarded.
On an overcast Sunday evening, I visited the blood bank making sure I had eaten well, slept well and was in the pink of health. As I entered the lobby of the blood bank, I could hear “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” by U2 blaring loudly over the speakers in the waiting room. I had to fill out a form, giving general information and my medical history. Sitting right next to me, were two other guys, who were animatedly speaking to each other in hushed whispers. With nothing better to do at the moment, I eavesdropped on their conversation.
“Look around bro, there are no ladies waiting to donate blood. Do you know the real reason behind it?” said one to the other.
“No, Tell me what is this reason you speak of?”, said the other in a mocking tone.
“A true lady never reveals her age or weight, that’s why.”
Then, they burst into peals of uncontrolled laughter.
I felt that their joke though harmless, was not in good taste and was just about to confront them, when the door swung open and a girl in her late teens, with beautiful blue eyes, overflowing with tears shuffled by.
She sniffed and walked out. I was stunned. No not to the extent that Ranvijay (from Roadies) usually gets stunned. What happened in the adjacent blood donors room that had made her shed tears? If a close friend of mine had been present with me he would have remarked “Bhai dekh tota at 12 o’clock, Oh no, and here comes the waterworks.” with a hard retroflex on the word tota.
Soon, I was ushered to the adjacent room for a quick weigh in and a blood test. I was deemed fit enough to donate blood. Seated comfortably in a reclining chair, I glanced around; there were posters in the room encouraging people to donate blood.
The doctor strapped my right shoulder, increased the pressure on it and then looked for a vein, to draw blood from. With two gentle taps, he pinpointed the exact location and slowly inserted the needle and asked me to keep pressing the stress ball so as to maintain a steady flow. I could feel the blood pumping out of my vein and filling the blood bag that kept oscillating back and forth on a stand. After some time the machine made a loud whirring noise indicating that one unit of my blood had been collected from me.
Some Facts about blood needs
-Every year our nation requires about 4 crore units of blood, out of which only a meager 40 Lakh units of blood are available.
-The gift of blood is the gift of life. There is no substitute for human blood.
-A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.
After resting there for some time , I was advised to consume a lot of fluids and to not lift heavy objects with my right hand for the next 24 hours. The nurse applied a small band aid , where the blood had been drawn from, to prevent further bleeding. I slowly made my way out and into the lobby; I could now hear “Keep bleeding love” by Leona Lewis blaring loudly from the speakers. I kept humming the chorus as I left the building.
They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and the first step is always the hardest. I was happy that I was able to take this plunge and see it through to the end. I have marked my calendar for my next visit to the blood bank three months from today.
About the Author: Harshith Mallya is a 3rd year B.E. Mechanical engineering student at the prestigious Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Manipal. He describes himself as Young, carefree, Big Bang Theory and Sherlock fanatic, ambitious, tech enthusiast, foodie,AIESECer and a proud Indian… You can follow him on Twitter @HarshithMallya