Flyer staff member rolls up his sleeve for a good cause

Luke stays positive during the blood donation.

By Luke Sheidler, Sports Editor

I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about signing up to donate blood at the Fairmont Blood Drive on Oct. 31, 2014. But I knew that, as a healthy 17-year-old, I could provide the gift of life to someone who needs it. I recalled the old saying — If not me, who? If not now, when? — and signed on the dotted line.

Blood is an essential part of life. Without it, we would all die, and one in seven patients in the hospital are in dire need of blood. Since blood isn’t artificial or manufactured, the only way to receive this gift of life is through donations. In order to support the cause, I went against my fears and decided to give blood.

I woke up on the day of the Blood Drive tired from a night of tossing and turning in fear of this event. When I receive shots, I usually have a negative reaction after being pricked by the needle. Since this process would use a thicker needle that would stay in my vein for multiple minutes, I found my stress level rising as I made myself breakfast.

After going my first two periods with the threat of the needle hanging over my head, it was time to start the process. On the way to Trent Arena, senior Lily Condron, who would photograph me during the donation process, recounted a story in which she fainted not once, but twice after she gave blood. That didn’t exactly ease my anxiety, so I took an extra swig of water to decrease my level of fatigue.

As we walked into Trent Arena, my fears hit a peak when I gazed upon the numerous students on the gurneys and the packets of blood in the back. (See that little smile in the photos? Although I appear calm in the pictures, beneath that smile, I was a bundle of worry and panic.)

My parents repeatedly told me that the finger prick was the worst part. I suppose they were trying to make me feel better about the actual blood draw, but they just gave me another thing to worry about.”

After verifying that I had no blood-transferred diseases, I was moved to the next stage, where they tested my blood pressure and blood oxygen level. In order to test for oxygen level, they had to prick one of my fingers, which I was definitely most worried about, thanks to my mom and dad.

Leading up to the donation, my parents, who have donated numerous times, repeatedly told me that the finger prick was the worst part. I suppose they were trying to make me feel better about the actual blood draw to follow, but they just gave me another thing to worry about.

However, all the finger prick left was a stinging sensation that lasted for a few minutes. Since the pain was miniscule, a few of my worries were eased. However, my largest fear — the actual donation — still loomed large.

After chugging one more bottle of water to keep my blood pressure steady, I was called to one of the first gurneys. Instantly, I felt my heartbeat almost double as I was laid down. After deciding which arm to extract the blood from and preparing the needle, they were ready to begin. I closed my eyes and prepared myself for the endless agony.

But … I felt no pain.

I opened my eyes and saw that I was actually giving blood. Immediately, all my fears were relieved, and the look of happiness in the photos from that point forward is not fictional. I laid back, relaxed and let the needle do all the work.

After seven minutes of donation, they removed the needle and asked me what color of bandage I preferred. Of course, I had to choose the manliest color of all: pink. After they wrapped the bandage around my arm, I slowly got up, and was led to the most rewarding part of the donation: complimentary brownies, cookies, and apple juice.

After I had my fill of desserts and juice, I walked back to class and continued the rest of my school day.

I was glad I had prepared for the blood donation by drinking plenty of fluids and having a substantial breakfast. That’s probably the most important part of the donation process. I heard about a girl who donated blood the same morning I did, and afterwards, she was out cold in the hallway. Instantly, I knew she must not have prepared properly for the donation.

The donation was not as nearly as big of a deal as I had feared, and I’ll definitely return to give again at the next blood drive. Fairmont’s Blood Drive was also a success for the Community Blood Center, with 197 pints of blood donated, exceeding the goal of 175 pints.

I’m proud that my contribution helped with that total. I encourage all students to donate as well, since every donation saves three lives.