Having waited two hours for a donor, it was finally time to draw blood for cross-matching.
However, the technician of a renowned hospital could not even locate a vein to take blood from and left her in pain after poking at her arms randomly.
The donor's journey across town and my wait of hours all went in vain. Thankfully we had another donor who arrived in a short while and donated the much-needed blood for my grandmother's surgery.
Though this was an unavoidable situation many unwanted situations can be avoided if we are prepared.
While many of us have been donating blood or have been in a position to seek blood donation before not all of us are familiar with the norms. So, to make the process easier here is a list of things that might help - like where to seek blood donors, and what to be cautious about.
Prepare for disappointment
In case of blood groups like A+, B+ and AB+ finding donors might not be so difficult. However, in case of blood groups like O-, AB- and other rare groups finding a donor amongst people you may know might be a bit tricky.
It is likely that you will not find a donor altogether. So, while you look for donors try to scope out blood banks as well.
However, while looking for blood banks try to make sure that they have a good track record, if possible check whether the blood stocked there has been tested properly. You can take help from social media to get information about the organisation.
Also, talk to the blood bank about any monetary transaction they require.
Where to search for blood donors
The medical demand for blood in Bangladesh is nine lakh bags annually, and volunteer donors help meet 32% of that demand. The remaining 68% comes from relatives and friends of blood recipients, health experts say.
Finding donors can be a daunting task. The easiest thing you can do is post on social media as it might attract the attention of a lot of people.
If that does not work, most hospitals now have blood banks. However, that might be a little costly.
As a last resort you can go to blood banks near you.
Also, there are a few Facebook groups which help connect donors with seekers such as – Dhaka Blood Donation Society, Blood Connection, Blood Donation Dhaka and many more.
Beware of scammers
In case of seeking blood donation from unknown sources such as social media or unfamiliar blood banks do not, I repeat do not, pay any money in advance.
There have been many incidents where people promised to donate blood but asked for some money as travel expenses or other expenses. However, after receiving the money they have bailed out or just vanished from the face of the earth.
In such cases not only money but precious time is lost which can be very detrimental for the patient.
Treating accident patients, surgery, C-section procedures of pregnant women, and thalassemia patients requires regular blood transfusions. Due to the demand, people are forced to take blood from illegal blood banks, increasing the risk of unsafe blood transfusions.
So, while seeking blood donation ensure the source is reliable and would not be the cause of any untoward situation.
Questions to ask donors and conditions that might bar them from blood donation
Ask the donor if they have donated blood in the last three months because there must be at least three-month intervals between donations.
Also, try to ask questions like if they have taken any drugs in the last 24 hours. Because, donating under the influence is always frowned upon.
Additionally, a person who has injected any recreational drugs in the last five years can not donate blood.
Ask the donor if they have been infected with Covid-19 in the last two weeks, because people are eligible to donate blood only after they have been Covid free for at least two weeks.
People who are anemic also cannot donate blood. Do not forget to ask the donor if they have any medical condition you should be aware of, at the same time ask them if they take any medication which might bar them from donating.
Be informed about the procedure of donation
Make sure that you know what the donation procedure entails from start to finish. Many hospitals might have appointment systems, many require only a few hours to cross match the donors blood with the recipients whereas many require a day, many blood banks of hospitals close down at a certain time many are 24x7.
So, while seeking blood donation be sure to ask the donation facility about their procedure. This will help you be prepared for the long procedure, and it will also help you inform the donor what they are likely to expect.
Be prepared to answer questions
You have to keep in mind that whoever you are seeking donation from are likely to ask you a question or two before they agree to donate.
They might have questions like who it is for, when they are expected to make the donation as they might have prior engagements, what the procedure for donating is, where they have to arrive for the donation and how much time they might need.
So, have patience, answer them politely and try to figure out an arrangement that works out for both of you.
You can't really expect people to keep their life on hold and arrive at your beck and call.
Also, try to have a backup in case the donor does not show up.
A person who is doing you a favour out of their sheer generosity deserves some simple courtesies like ensuring they have a transport to and from the place where the donation will be made.
If you cannot manage a transport at least try to bear their transportation cost but try to be sensitive about it.
Don't let them leave unfed
Blood donation is not the same for everyone. Some might be hale and hearty right after donating blood while some might feel weak and dizzy.
So, it falls upon you to take care of them both before and after the donation.
Try to keep some juice and dry foods at hand so that you can offer them to the donor right after they have donated. Donating blood might lead to a fall in blood sugar levels, and processed juices have a lot of sugar in them which might be a good option.
Also, carbonated beverages and electrolyte drinks can also come in handy as they give you energy almost instantly.
Check up on them afterwards
After they have reached home make sure to check-up on them if they are okay or not.
Blood donation might seem like a trivial matter but it is not the case for everyone. Some people might have adverse effects following donation as they might suffer from underlying conditions which might be triggered by the process.
Also, in some cases bruising can occur at the place where the needle was inserted if the technician is not experienced and pokes at the place too much. So, if anything like that occurs offer them whatever help they might need like medical attention.
The most important thing is to remember that we are all human and we all need each other sometimes. Be grateful to the one who came forward to help.