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Student gives blood for the first time

Ms. Ligamari and Tori Peckham Smith giving blood
Tori Peckam Smith donates blood. Roll over the image to see Teacher Librarian Joann Ligamari giving too. Photos by Irene Dumas.
FHS student Kat McDermott gives blood for the first time and sufferes the consequences of being ill-prepared.

Donating blood for the first time was a fun and interesting experience. I can’t say I was well prepared, though.

First, I woke up at seven; an hour later than I normally do to get ready for school and start walking. I didn’t even remember the blood drive was today until I stepped out the door. Luckily, my dad gave me a ride to school but I still didn’t have time to eat. I only got to school a few minutes late and I didn’t need to get a late pass.

At eight, I left first period, dropped off an assignment for second period, and walked to the small gym. After showing my I.D. at the check-in table, I had to register some personal information with a Blood Source staff member and fill out a questionnaire. My friend Tori Peckam and I tried talking to each other while filling out our questionnaires but another staff member put a divider around me because we were supposed to “give each other confidentiality.”

After that, I sat at a different booth where a phlebotomist (blood specialist) measured the amount of iron in my body, took my blood pressure, double-checked my information, and weighed me. I barely made the minimum weight, 110 pounds. I weighed 118.

Finally, I sat back in an elevated chair to start giving blood. My nurse, Lee, was really friendly and joked around the entire time. I wasn’t nervous at all, just curious. He checked the veins on both of arms and picked which arm to take blood from. Then he cleaned my left arm with a cotton swab and alcohol. For a few minutes, I had to squeeze a stress relief ball and have my upper arm wrapped in a sphygmomanometer (the Velcro wrap that inflates) to help my veins stand out more.

I got a little scared when I saw how big the hollow needle the nurses use were, but it didn’t hurt when it went in. Once blood started flowing it felt like my arm was tingling. After Lee took out my needle he put a cotton pad on top of the hole and wrapped my arm tight in blue medical wrap. After donating, I stayed in my chair for another 10 minutes to make sure I wasn’t feeling too weak. After the nurses told me I could get up, I went to the snack table and had some water and a few Oreos; that was the first thing I’d eaten all day. Third period was only about halfway over but I sat in the bathroom for another 10 minutes because I suddenly felt really tired. I was ready for a nap, but I wasn’t desperate enough to sleep in the bathroom; that's weird.

After I ate a cup of yogurt that I took from home, a student that had the class with me told me we were taking important notes so I decided I should go to class.The rest of the school day I felt a bit more tired than normal, but I didn’t think anything was wrong because I’d stayed up late the night before. The only thing that bothered me was the tape around my arm; which I took off a little early right after school.

I took a nap for an hour at my friend’s house and afterwards I could barely do anything. I felt perfectly fine until I actually tried to do something. I was pale, my stomach was cramping, and my skin was cold. I drank plenty of water but I still haven’t had enough food. Everything required so much more effort than normal and I moved so slowly. All my friends thought I was going to pass out. I could barely pick up a fork. After eating a small bowl of pasta, I dragged myself out of my friend’s room and he hid around the corner and scared me. I started crying and I suddenly got really hot and sweaty. It seems really silly in retrospect but I guess my emotions were acting strange because of the stress on my body.

After I left, my boyfriend and I went out to get Jamba Juice and pizza. Before I ate, I couldn’t hold myself up in the car. Whenever he’d make a turn I’d sway to the momentum of the car and I could barely keep my eyes open. After eating, I was still sleepy but I had a lot more energy.

I went to sleep as soon as I got home. The next day, my arm that the blood was taken from hurt whenever I picked up anything heavier than a few pounds. Giving blood was a wild and interesting experience, I’ll just have to make sure I eat breakfast before I donate next time.



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