A passionate young soon-to-be medical doctor with interest in writing and #HealthForAll

The Blood Donation

I just did my very first blood donation
I have planned to do blood donation aka to give blood since the beginning of this year. unfortunately, I could not find the right time to do so. everytime the PMI (Palang Merah Indonesia/Red Cross) visited my campus to do the blood donation, I could not be the donor because I was on my period. and it did not happen once, it happened thrice! so you can imagine how upset I was for being unable to give my blood and checked one of my new year resolutions. but then I decided to go to the hospital and do it anyway! 

why I listed Blood Donation as one of my year 2015 resolutions? 

some of you readers may have known that now I'm studying Medicine in one of Indonesia's leading private universities located in Special District of Yogyakarta. the reason why I took this major is because yes, it has been my deepest craving that needs to be fulfilled, my ambition since I was very little to be a doctor. and the job of a doctor is to help people, try to cure people with disease or prevent people from getting sick. earlier on my first semester of studying medicine, I got this material talking about Five-Star doctor criteria published by WHO. a person is said to be a Five Star Doctor when s/he is a care provider (a doctor is expected to give the best individual treatment and take into account the total needs of a patient (physical, mental, social) and ensuring that the treatment is of the highest quality, also ensuring that a full range of treatment -curative, preventive or rehabilitative- will be distribute in ways that are complementary, integrated and continuous), decision maker (the simple explanation about this criteria is that a doctor will have to make decisions based in terms of efficacy (lets say, the patient's ability to pay) and cost, example: when a patient comes from a middle class or a poor financed family who cannot afford to pay for expensive medicine, the doctor will then have to decide on which medicine to use that will cure the patient but is also affordable and no less intense in battling disease like the expensive one does. also, the doctor have to decide from all possible ways of treating a health condition, which one is most appropriate and best for the patient), communicator (the doctor must be a great communicator in order to persuade individuals, families and communities to adopt a healthy lifestyle), community leader (the job of a five-star doctor will not only be about treating individuals who seek help, but also take positive interest in community health activities which will benefit lots of people, simple example like invites people to "gotong-royong" cleaning up the neighborhood so that the environment will be clean and the people living in the neighborhood will have less worries about, say, a clean place outside their home for the kids to play) and manager (its necessary for a five-star doctor to acquire managerial skills. the managerial skill will enable doctors to start exchanges of informations to make better decisions, and to carry out the other 4 functions).

problem is, I'm not yet a doctor, therefore I'm still unable to fulfill the 5 criteria to be a five-star doctor now. but I want to be a good use in society, at least to help people even those whom I have no idea of. but the thing is, I'm far too busy with school stuffs that most of the time I couldn't be involved in social activities (because there are rarely social events that I know of, second of all, I do not own car/motorcycle (not a pro to drive, anyway) and its kinda hard for me to go from one place to another if there's no taxi and I'm living on my own here in Yogyakarta so I have to save some money and riding taxi all the time will do me no good). then one day this idea popped up on my mind, like, blood donation! giving away my blood for people in need! yes! 
so I started searching for the benefits of being a blood donor and the benefits are...

1. Balanced iron level in the blood. according to studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack and 33% less likely to suffer any type of cardiovascular event. it has been long known that pre-menopausal/menstruating women have fewer heart attacks, the reason why was previously thought to be due to hormones but it was recently thought to be due to lower iron levels (because of blood loss during menstruation). and from what I read, iron has a significant impact on atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. when you give blood you are removing 225 to 250 milligrams of iron from your system, thus cutting your risk of heart disease because the chance for your arteries to get "hardened" is less.

2. Better blood flow.2 its said that repeated blood donations may help your blood to flow better, possibly helping to limit damage to the lining of the blood vessels, which should result in fewer arterial blockages."what is clear is that blood donors seem not to be hospitalized so often and if they are, they have shorter length of stay and they're less likely to get heart attacks, stroke, and cancers." said Phillip DeChristopher, M.D., Ph.D.

3. Get a mini check-up. yes, because before donating your blood, you will first have to complete a quick physical that measures your pulse, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels (if you are not qualified you will not be able to donate). After your blood is collected, it will undergo some tests, say HIV test and such and such and you will be notified if something is wrong.

4. Feel good! giving feels great, especially when you understand that one blood donation can make such a difference and knowing that you're saving a live.

I made plan, that once there is a blood donation, I have to be involved. turned out, there were 3 blood donation events in my campus but I couldn't be a donor because I was on my period. yes, it was a sad coincidence because I was on my period when all three events were held. but then I spoke to Tita about me wanting to be a blood donor, then she told me to be a donor in RSUP. Dr. Sardjito, so we made plans about when to go and finally went there and voila! I'm a blood donor! mission accomplished. (will donor again on December 5th!)

My experience: being a blood donor and the requirements to do blood donation~ 
I'm going to explain about blood donation. Blood donation is a voluntary procedure in which you agree to have your blood drawn so that it can be given to people who need blood transfusion. It's the same thing like giving your stuff to people who need them, but this time, you're giving part of yourself that can be crucial to one's life. 

As mentioned above, I told Tita that I want to be a bloog donor, so we made plans to go to the hospital to do my mission. Anyway, before we went to the hospital, on Thursday, September 10th, I told my friends in my clinical skills class and my intructor that if they want to take any blood for practice, they can take mine and so they did. When doing so, my vein was too narrow, and they only got like 1cc of my blood (after tried on my left and right vena mediana cubiti) and resulted in me having small hematoma for awhile on both arms. The great news is, my friend Filzah did a great job when practicing on me. Today, I also have clinical skills class and Desti did venipuncture too and got like 3cc of my blood (I took home the vacutainer containing my blood, weird, I know). After that, Tita and I went to Togamas to buy an internal medicine textbook published by the University of Indonesia. Unfortunately, they don't have it so we went to Gramedia instead, which also ran out of stock of the book. Instead, we shopped for some notes and other stationeries. We then grab some snacks and went to RSUP dr. Sardjito, we went straight to the blood transfusion unit. There, I was asked to fill blood donor form, after filling the form, I weigh myself. Next, they did a blood type test on me (I'm a O+) and measure my Hb levels. Since I haven't had lunch, Tita and I went to the hospital canteen. After 30 minutes, we came back to the blood transfusion unit and then went into the donor room. Inside the room, a male nurse asked for my permission to measure my blood pressure and took the blood bag from inside a gray cabinet and injected the needle to my right vena mediana cubiti while asked me to inhale deeply so it won't hurt. He then told me not to move because my vain is too narrow. We then waited, while Tita took some pictures of me. After the blood bag is fully filled with my blood, we went back to Tita's home. The funny thing is, I only felt a slight headache for about 10 minutes or so and the next thing I felt was... HAPPY! and satisfied! and grateful!

The requirements to donate your blood:
1. Average healthy person
2. Age between 17 to 65 years old
3. Minimum body weight of 45kg
4. Blood pressure: systole 100-170, diastole 70-100
5. Hb levels 12,5g% - 17,0g%
6. Minimun donor interval of 12 weeks of 3 months since last blood donor (maximum 5 times in 2 years)

Also, do not forget to get at least 4 hours of sleep before the donation, eat at least 3-4 hours before donation, drink more water, after the donor take 10 minutes rest and eat some meals.

(the blood transfusion unit in RSUP. Dr. Sardjito in Jogja opens until 24:00 everyday for blood donor while for transfusion it opens 24 hours)

here are some photos taken by Tita

the male nurse is injecting the needle to my right vena mediana cubiti.
a closer look of my right arm and the blood bag.
there were some prints provided by the hospital for taking pictures.
here's the blood bag. you can see the 350ml sign printed on it.