Blood, it’s in you to give!

Did you know that approximately 1 in 2 Canadians will either need, or know somebody who will need blood products in their life time? Did you also know that we use more blood products in Toronto than what we donate? “We have to come together to help out our community,” says Roop Sidhu, Community Development Coordinator for Canadian Blood Services. Blood products (this includes blood, platelets and plasma) are always in need. Platelets, for example, are often packaged and used the very next day. Talk about instant karma! Canadian Blood Services was established on September 12th of 1998, with the mandate to create a safe, healthy and accessible supply of blood products for all Canadians. It is a not-for-profit corporation funded by the Ministry of Health and regulated by Health Canada. And you know what? Helping CBS out with their mandate is easy. You can donate blood every 56 days. Basically, all you have to remember is that it’s time to donate blood every time the season changes. You can save up to 3 lives every time you donate blood, it’s not painful (nothing more than a slight pinch, anyways), and only takes 1 hour of your time. There’s even free food afterwards! There’s no reason to not donate. From now until March 31st, you can join U of T for Blood 101, a blood donation campaign that Canadian Blood Services runs every year. There are 23 schools across Canada that are participating, and the school that best meets their target donation units will be given the challenge’s trophy. In addition, students have a chance to win a brand new Sony Reader. Since it’s U of T’s first time participating, our target is at a modest 200 units (=200 people), which means we have a high chance at getting the trophy, so make sure you identify yourself from U of T when you register for a blood donation at any of the clinics and enter a ballot for the Sony Reader! If you’re at St. George, donating couldn’t be easier – if you get on the streetcar on College Street going East, get off at Elizabeth, one stop after Queen’s Park Subway station, and you’re a cross road away from the Toronto clinic. If that clinic is too far for you (it seriously isn’t), here are two dates that you’d want to put in your agendas: January 27th, 2:00PM – 7:00PM @ 67 College for the Multi-faith Centre Blood Drive. February 11th, 2:00PM – 7:00PM @ the Medical Science Building Yes, there's even going to be a blood clinic on campus, so, again, no reason not to go! In fact, you know you want to bring your friends – the more the merrier! If these dates don’t work for you, here's some ultra-exclusive news (nobody knows about this yet!) – Roop tells me that there will be a joint clinic with our sports teams on March 1st at the ACC. Members of the Toronto Maple Leaf, the Marlies, the Raptors, and the TSC will make an appearance. There will be a media event soon, so stay tuned for the confirmed guest list. Even if you’re not a sports fan, Rotman professor Brian Silverman is confirmed to sing during the clinic, so drop in to support a fellow U of Ter! The first time I went to donate blood was when Trinity College organized a group donation. I dragged a friend, because I'm a wimp, and we went together. We had a bus to take us to the clinic, but first we had some smoothies, courtesy of Sodexho. It's very important to eat before you go and to make sure you drink lots and lots of fluid. It'll make the entire process quick and painless! I thought you might be curious as to what the entire process is like, so I had Mr. Spock with me the entire way: Note: If you're not comfortable with the sight of blood or needles, I'd suggest that you might want to skip the rest of the post. If you're fine, click away! 1) Yummy smoothies! Oh yes, before I forget, CBS has videos of the entire procedure. It's very nicely done. 2) The bus: as I said, Canadian Blood Services sent a van to pick us up. It pulled up at the front of Trin, and a guy in a face mask came out to ask if any one of us had flu symptoms. Nope, not me! 3) When we arrived at the clinic, we picked up a binder that we had to read through, a number, and, look, my blood card*! I have B+ blood, the blood of an optimist! (Be positive, get it? Thanks for telling me the joke, Roop!) * I know you're asking how I got my blood card the first time I went. I didn't. This picture was taken my second time donating - the day I went to interview Roop. I took the opportunity to take some photos I missed. See if you can spot which of the following pictures were taken when! I had blue nail polish the first time, and pink the second. 4) After that, I was led to a table where they checked my iron levels by pricking my finger. Fun fact: apparently, I "bleed well", because when the lady pricked me, my finger started gushing. Oi, Edward Lestat, hear that? 5) After I was cleared, I had to fill out a confidential form regarding my health, travel, and participation in potentially high-risk activities. Then, I was invited to a small room where another nurse asked me some personal questions to make sure that my blood is not at risk of any infectious diseases. I was then given a choice between two stickers to put on my sheet, depending on whether or not I wanted them to use my blood. She also took my temperature and blood pressure to make sure I was healthy enough. 6) Finally, I was led to The Chair where the deed was to be done. Check out the supplies cabinet! 7) It's funny, the pin they used to prick my finger hurt more than the comparatively much-bigger needle used on my arm. Anyhow, they cleaned my arm first, stuck the needle in, and I just waited until I've given enough. (I actually have a picture of the needle in my arm without the gauze, but I didn't think you'd want to see it, dear readers. It was merely to satiate my morbid curiosity.) 8) Finally, I rested for a few minutes on the chair while I held a gauze to my arm to stop the bleeding. Then I was wrapped up and ready to go. Don't you just love my neon green wraps? 9) All in all, the process took about an hour. You're given cookies and drinks before you leave, and, as a first-time donor, I even got a cute little pin! After your blood is collected, a sample of it is taken to test for any transmissible diseases. If your sample is fine, then the blood you donated is separated and transported to different hospitals and health care facilities as needed. I'm still sad that I didn't get a chance to see the labs. Maybe next time! So how many of you are already regular donors? If you've never donated before, are you going to join U of T and participate in Blood 101? If you've donated plasma or platelet before, how is the process different? Let me know in the comments! Cheers! - Cynthia. PS: I was at Sid Smith last Wednesday, and I walked straight into the CBS booth - the aroma of free hot chocolate drew me to it like a bee to honey. Not only were they promoting Blood 101, they also told me about OneMatch, a program you can join to donate Stem Cells and Bone Marrow. Visit the booth at Sid Smith every Wednesday to learn more!

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