Does not wanting to give blood make me a terrible person?

All the ads since Tuesday are making me feel guilty. I gave blood once, and it was a terrible experience. It took forever(well, probably 45 minutes) because I’ve always had low blood pressure, and the nurse got impatient and moved the needle around in my arm three times, which hurt like hell and caused very large bruises on my arm. Since then I’ve been scared to repeat the process. I suspect that so many people had similar horror stories from that particular blood drive (several people had veins colapsed etc) because the nurses or whoever they were had no idea what they were doing, and that there are so many blood drives going on now doesn’t make me think they are only being conducted by the best trained people. Does anyone else feel guilty about not being willing to give blood?

This doesn’t seem like a problem to me. We all do what we can. Some give blood, some give money, some give time, some give a moment of silence. The only time you should bear any guilt about this is if you were the last person on earth able to give blood and you still declined because of one bad experience. Not likely to happen, huh: :slight_smile:

If you DO decide at some point in your life to try to give blood again, tell them you have had a bad experience and would like to have the draw done by their most experienced person. I have been called a “veinless wonder” by an anesthesiologist in the past. I gave blood this week and told the Red Cross up front that I would be difficult. I had a wonderful experience.

Do not feel guilt, elfkin.
But don’t let one bad experience scare ya, either.
I have truly LOUSY veins. They’re small, tough-sided and invisible on my inner elbows, even when pumping a fist.

Skill in punching them really varies. Routine bloodwork at a local med lab took 3 tries, each elbow, before they finally nailed one. And these are pros who do this constantly. (The veins on the back of my hands are the default option–which REALLY hurts and leaves me looking like I’m wearing one purple/black glove.)

OTOH the vein-sticker for recent surgery (minor, outpatient) slid it in painlessly, first attempt. Go figure.
I didn’t even know when the needle and IV went in.

It just varies enormously.


Some people just can’t give blood, and that’s fine. They’re going to have a bear of a time very time they try, and might not even get a full pint (which means the whole thing gets trashed, alas) so it’s not worth it. Don’t feel guilty. I had a bad experience (I fainted) and it took all my courage to give again. As Ruby noted, there are plenty of other ways to help. Furthermore, I don’t know if anyone has come forward with this, but I’d imagine the blood needs are much lower than they’d hoped/feared. Just not that many people were recovered. It’s still great for people to donate because we’re too often in perilous shape supply-wise, but how much difference it makes in this tragedy, well, I wonder.

However, if the time comes that you want to try again, there are some things you can do to make it easier. First of all, TANK UP. Drink tons and tons of water the day of donation. If you’re well-hydrated, it’s gonna flow better. (However, don’t drink iced water or iced drinks immediately before donation–they can’t get a reliable oral temp reading.) Also, eat well. You don’t want to be low on blood sugar and then be in worse shape when you lose a pint.

elfkin477, two things.

First of all, not wanting to give blood doesn’t make you a bad person. Helping comes in many forms, some concrete, some not; blood donation, gift of money or goods, the time to listen to someone who’s having trouble dealing with the situation. Even covering at work for someone who is donating is really helping. Whatever you can do, do - I’m sure you already are.

Second, as has been said, don’t let one bad experience put you off for life. The first time I gave blood, I swear they must have had the work experience kid doing venesections. Stab, whoops, missed…stab, sorry, missed again, I’ll have another go… The resultant bruise, no joke, extended from halfway between elbow and shoulder almost down to my wrist. In the middle of this huge bruise the half-dozen stick sites showed out clearly. And it hurt. These days, I’m a regular donor, so I got past it.

Maybe wait a while, though, until the present desperate crush is past and time doesn’t press so heavily; I’d also echo earlier advice and warn them that you’ve had trouble in the past, ask for a good venesector. Because I have terrible veins, I get the same person to do the stick for me, and I’ve only rarely had problems since.

No, Elfkin, you are not a terrible person. We all do what we can to help. Neither my husband nor I are able to give blood (he because of a splenectomy and I because I am pregnant), so we plan to send a monetary donation instead. I can’t tell you how many times I almost picked up the phone to ask the doctor if I could go ahead and give blood. But I knew what he would say, so I didn’t do it. Even so, it’s hard not to feel guilty. So you aren’t the only person who is unable to help in this particular manner–don’t feel alone in this. Your care and concern are of value, too. And remember that there some out there who not only aren’t helping, they are taking advantage of this horror story by scamming the families of the WTC victims. THEY are the ones who are terrible people–not people like you.

elfkinI don’t blame you for not wanting to give blood, I doubt if I would in your case.
Getting people to give blood is a problem though, so whoever can should. If it is only a case of forgetting or not wanting to take the time that shouldn’t be a good reason for not doing it. I gave for years and my doctor now says I need all the blood I’ve got, but I’m still considering it.

Remember the blood being donated today will only be good for 60 days and then they will need lots more blood.

No you are not evil at all. I know what you mean. Even though I am too young to give blood, I wouldn’t want to. I don’t have good veins and when doctors are drawing blood, they have to stick me three or four times to get it right shudder. Plus, I always faint afterwards even if they are just taking a teeny little vial for tests. It really is not a fun experience suddenly waking up on the waiting room floor with all the nurses standing around me and other people in the waiting room panicking. There’s lots of other things you can do to help, like donating money or even dog food for the search dogs (they’re in really short supply of it right now).

I’ve been very bad about blood and needles ever since a bad experience with a TB test in high school.

The first and only time I tried to give blood, they got about half a pint out of me before they decided I was too pale and clammy and stopped. They did the typing and disease testing and all, and I got a donor card in the mail, but they had to throw it away, because they can only keep full bags.

Once I accidentally gave myself a small cut in the kitchen, and fainted. I wasn’t disturbed by it or emotionally upset or anything. One second I was standing there waiting for my friend to fetch a bandaid, and the next there was a roaring sound in my ears and my vision was closing down like a black tunnel. I haven’t actually fainted since then, because I’ve learned that whenever I’m exposed to blood (my own or somebody else’s) I should sit down immediately and look away.

Any time they have to draw blood at the doctor’s, it’s an hour-long ordeal, usually involving four or five different people trying to stick me, lots of cold fruit juice, and me saying, “I’m sorry, I think I’m getting faint again,” a lot.

So I know I’d be more trouble than I was worth if I tried to donate, or even if I tried volunteering at a drive. I’m writing a check to the Red Cross, and I’ll be looking out for other ways to help. They don’t need me passed out cold when there are lots of other folks who can donate.

No, you’re not a bad person. If you have a blood pressure problem, you need to be careful.

My first time giving blood was horrible. The woman drawing the blood was NOT skilled, and I think she went right through the vein. It hurt like hell, but having never give blood before, I thought it was supposed to hurt. It was a few minutes before they realized that she’d screwed up. Someone who knew what he was doing tried in the other arm, and it was fine - just a minor pinch.

I had a bruise from my shoulder to my wrist and my arm ached for several days. The next time I went to give blood, when I saw her, I said “Keep her away from me” and had the guy who knew was he was doing set me up.

For a while, I couldn’t donate because of medications I was on, but now I can donate again and have been doing so fairly regularly for the last 3 years or so. I just went toward the end up August and I’m going to go again at the end of October.

I used to give blood routinely.

Then came the whole scare of the tainted blood here in Canada … people giving blood infected with diseases (like AIDS) that were not screened out. There were also cases of people getting infectuous disease by lack of necessary controls at donation facilities.

Since then I have been unwilling to give blood. I am sorry, but if they want to take my blood, I need to know that safer methods are in place … I am unwilling to risk it for so little a gain. (feel free to chew me out now, I am used to it)

Lazarus, my understanding is that tainted blood was a problem for people getting the blood, not people donating.

Lazarus, I’d never heard any indication, even during the Krever inquiry, that giving blood had ever been dangerous.

At least in the US, every time you give blood, they use a new needle. The only blood that needle will ever touch is yours. It is impossible to contract a blood-borne virus (such as HIV) by donating blood.

Nobody has ever gotten AIDS by giving blood.

I went for my usual pheresis appointment today and was talking to the nurses about last week. They usually take 20 whole blood draws a week (as opposed to blood parts) and last week did 134. That’s great, but as the boss said, it increases the incidence of reactions and nervous people fainting, etc. It’s not that it wouldn’t help, but if you’re already nervous it creates difficulties during a time they are already swamped.

I am a hard stick, and the head nurse always does me because of the trouble. A friend went with me once and even though she really wanted to give, she was nervous and they had to scrap the donation because it didn’t flow well and she got really upset. The tubing setup costs over $100 and cannot be reused of course.

So, as others have said, give how you can and want to; don’t worry about not wanting to do this one thing. And if you do want to try again, wait until there isn’t such a press and let them know you are nervous. I go to the hospital for regular donations, not to blood drives, and the nurses are wonderful.