Have You Donated Blood During the Pandemic? Here’s My Experience

For the last decade, I’ve donated blood twice a year, typically on my birthday and half birthday (I’m not big into my own birthday, and I’ve found that donating blood on that day just gives me some time to sit, reflect, and be grateful).

But I must admit that due to my fear of COVID, despite being both vaccinated (as all my friends are) and boosted and following all mask guidelines, I’ve been hesitant to donate blood during the pandemic. I think maybe there’s a small part of me that associates a temporary loss of blood with weakening my immune system (a quick Google search indicates there’s no evidence to support that thought).

On Thursday, my mom posted on Facebook about how my dad has used 7 units (pints?) of blood during the 6 rounds of chemo he’s gone through over the last months. With that (combined with it being my dad’s birthday) I decided that enough was enough–I needed to get over to the Red Cross right away.

So on Friday morning I donated blood. The Red Cross was pretty quiet, with only one other person donating at the same time. Really, it felt like any other time I’ve donated: They checked my iron levels, temperature, and blood pressure, then they slid in the needle while I tried not to look at the needle. The whole process took around 30 minutes (10 of which was in the waiting room, as they apparently didn’t know I was there).

I drank plenty of water that day, ate a Beyond burger for lunch to replenish iron levels, and I felt completely fine. I played disc golf in the cold the next morning without any issues. And as a nice bonus, in a few weeks I’ll know if I have any of the issues for which they test the blood.

The blood I gave won’t directly help my dad. But it was a great reminder to me that my blood matters to someone in need, and it was time for me to get over my pandemic-era fear of donating. I’ll be back in 6 months.

Have you donated blood during the pandemic? How was your experience?

4 thoughts on “Have You Donated Blood During the Pandemic? Here’s My Experience”

  1. Richard and I donated blood a few months ago. We are due to go back again right about now I think. We had a great experience. We went to LifeSouth Blood Center in Atlanta, after making an appointment. It was clean and people were very spread out and everyone was masked. I actually felt like it was my best experience giving blood. In the past I’ve usually given on a whim when I saw the Red Cross bus. I’ll make an appointment next time and do it this way instead from now on.

    Don’t forget you can also give plasma and platelets. Depending on your blood type they will tell you which they need more.

    Cynthia

    Reply
  2. That’s wonderful for you two to do that. And that’s a good reminder about plasma and platelets, neither of which I’ve done yet (mostly because they take so much more time, as far as I know).

    Reply
  3. I normally give blood every 12 weeks or so (as frequently as I can in the UK) and haven’t noticed a massive change here. There are a few more precautions in place which helps, namely temperature checks, mask requirements and socially distanced seating. In addition, they’re not allowing “walk-in” donations most of the time (instead requiring all donors to pre-book).

    I have in the past considered swapping from “whole blood” to platelet donation (as my blood type is a universal donor for platelets), but the logistics are a lot harder. For whole blood I can just stop at one of the roaming centres they setup on the way home from work, but for platelets I’d have to visit a specially setup facility and there are none that are convenient for me to get to.

    Reply
    • That’s great, Paul–very generous of you. There was a time that I did that, but it depleted my iron levels too much (to the point that I showed up one day and couldn’t donate because they were so low), so I switched to every 6 months.

      Reply

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