Lifeblood is the only non-profit blood center in the Memphis area. All of their donors are volunteers. All of the whole blood and blood products (double red blood cells and platelets) donated at Lifeblood are given to the areas hospitals for patient use.
Many people that are able to give blood are afraid to. They may think they’ll contract a disease (not possible, all the needles and products used are brand new for each donor) or they may just be scared of the needle. I have donated 3 and a half gallons (that is 28 times) of whole blood and I have donated platelets twice. I have not felt any pain when I donated.
The process of donating blood is simple. You walk in, with or without an appointment. You simply sign in and hand the person at the desk your ID. If you are a new donor, they’ll take down your name, address, etc. If you have donated before, they just make sure your information is the same.
After you sign in, they take you to a private room. One Lifeblood employee will be in there with you. They first give you a physical. They ask you your height and weight, then they check your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and blood cell count. They count your blood by pricking your finger, and it does not hurt.
If you “pass” your physical, they will turn on a series of questions for you and leave the room so you can answer them privately. The questions ask you about your health and sexual history (nothing too awkward) and ask if you have traveled to any foreign countries. When you are done, you open the door and the employee comes in to quickly look over your answers.
Once it is determined you are eligible to donate after the physical and interview, they’ll take you to a chair in the donation room. They ask you if you’re allergic to a few things, ask you to repeat your name and date of birth to them, then wipe down your arm with some antiseptic. They then feel for your vein and stick the needle in. It is quick and painless. Usually once the needle is in your arm, donation times for whole blood range from 5 minutes to 10 minutes. Double red donations usually last about 30-40 minutes, and platelet donations usually take a couple of hours.
Once you are done donating, they wrap a bandage around your arm, give you your after donation instructions, and give you a sheet of paper telling you when you are eligible to donate again and what to do if you feel ill after your donation and you think your blood may be compromised. They also will give you that month’s donor gift. The gifts range from t-shirts to movie tickets.
After all of that is done, you walk over to the refreshment area. The refreshment area is stocked with cookies, chips, sodas, and water. You have a seat and have a snack and something to drink. Then you can walk to the desk to schedule your next donation or you can simply leave. A quick and simple process for you but you save people’s lives!
Lifeblood really cares about their donors. When you donate, you get points. You can redeem these points on the Club Lifeblood website. I have “purchased” a fleece blanket, a duffel bag, and a jump drive for my computer with my points! Every year they hold an event called DonorFest. It is a FREE event with fun things for the whole family. They also recognize their frequent donors with ceremonies and mail them thank you cards. They really make their donors feel appreciated! The staff at every center and blood drive is always kind and helpful as well.
Lifeblood has 6 locations in the Memphis area, and they are always having blood drives. For any information you need (to find locations and hours, look up blood drives, etc), you can visit their very extensive website at www.Lifeblood.org.