Gettin’ ‘stabbed’ to save lives

As a self-diagnosed needle phobic, the prospect of a not-so-gentle jab seems like something out of a chiller movie.

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My heart quickens. My palms sweat. The first poke of a needle, and I’m getting dizzy. So why would someone like me subject myself to a purely voluntary procedure? Donating blood goes beyond a life-or-death situation. One little stick of the needle can save up to three people.

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While it can’t be predicted when and where donated blood may be needed, the call for it never diminishes. Donations have a short shelf life, and volunteers must wait at least 120 days from their previous donation date before giving blood again. For me, despite the intimidation of donating, the prospect of helping my wingmen had me attending this time and will see me there again the next time the event takes place.

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The process of donation involves a pretty quick prescreening process depending on the number of donors at a given time. Volunteers fill out a questionnaire about their travel and medical history for possible disqualifying factors. After this stage, potential donors go through a health screening to ensure they can safely donate. Elevated or diminished iron levels disqualify potential donors, as do abnormal blood pressure and temperature levels.

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Then comes the needle poke. Doctors often recommend that donors eat a hearty meal before giving blood to combat potential side effects like dizziness. While I’ve personally had trouble before with light headedness, I’m often surprised how anti-climactic this process is. I tend to freak myself out much more prior to the procedure than this relatively painless process warrants. The good that donating accomplishes outweighs any apprehension toward a little needle poke.

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So the next time the blood drive comes around, why not consider getting “stabbed” to save lives? Similar events take place approximately every two months. You can bet I’ll be there the next time I can donate, probably still whimpering the whole way.

Blog by Senior Airman Sarah Denewellis // Photos by Airman 1st Class Luke Kitterman

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