I had just finished schooling and was enjoying the summer vacation. This was in 2010 in a city in western India. When this new thing was just introduced to me, with which one can stalk girls online without getting caught (Facebook). Being a teenager, I spent most of time doing exactly that. Since I had a lot of time on my hand, I said yes, when one of my friends invited me to his place for donating blood.
I was barely 18, so I wasn’t even sure, whether the doctors will allow me to donate or not! Nevertheless, I went there to donate blood for the first time. The camp was organised just outside my friend’s house. It was pretty low key and most of the organising was carried out by my friend’s family members. A temporary shade was created to protect the donors from harsh Indian sun and portable relaxing chairs were also arranged. Near the entrance of my friend’s place, the doctors were seating; alongside some light snacks and coffee were served (one should not donate with empty stomach). It was organised on Sunday morning so that everyone can join with relative ease.
“My blood will be used to save four lives. Yes…four not one.”
The doctors first checked all the criterias (blood pressure, weight, etc.) and then decided that since I was turning 18 the very next month, I am allowed to donated blood. I was nervous and excited at the same time!! Nervous because, well I am not afraid of needles but neither am I a fan, and excited because first time, my blood will be used to save four lives. Yes…four not one. The doctors told me that they will later on separate four different particles (like red blood cells, white blood cells, etc..) from my blood and will give it to four different people who are in need of a specific part of the blood.
When I was lying on the chair, the nurse also sensed my nervousness, when she was about to enter the needle into my arm. She said the needle is specifically designed so that it will inflict minimal pain. I was like, wow…now I am also gaining knowledge while donating. This shit just got awweeesome, and I was lost in euphoria (was it the nurse’s plan from the beginning?). Before long, the nurse told me to get up. I was kind of hoping it would last some hours, but it was over within fifteen minutes. I felt joy and kept the bandage on for next entire week, telling people I donated blood (after all….teenager). Nearly 60 people donated on that day and the camp lasted for 4 hours.
“Once the adrenaline rush started to fed, we actually understood, what is actually we got ourselves into!”
And that was my experience of first time donating blood. When I told my friend that I enjoyed it, he said his father is anyway very busy so from next time, we can do some parts of the organising as well. From then on, we started taking active participation in the organisation of blood donation camps. Red cross India was helping us with blood collection, and our primary role was to get as many people as we can to donate blood. Tada….everything went well then on, and we ended up organising more than 30 blood donation camps and helped save hundreds of lives. BUT damn…I wish life would be that simple. Once the adrenaline rush started to fed, we actually understood, what is actually we got ourselves into!
“I learned that donating blood is not the first priority for most of the university students (apparently getting laid is!!)”
First of all, we had really hard time getting people to come to donate blood due to the following reasons. We asked lots of our friends from university to donate, however, I learned that donating blood is not the first priority for most of the university students (apparently getting laid is!!). Blood donors are not given the incentive of money for donation (unlike most European countries), so it is difficult to get people to donate. Moreover, there is some stigma around the blood donation like, Red Cross India sells the blood to pharma companies after collecting it through donation. Well, I always didn’t like the last point because as blood being a perishable good, when it is not being sold to needy consumers, it had to be sold to the companies or else it has to be thrown away.
Anyways, even after facing such challenges, we did manage to organise more than 20 blood donation camps and my friend in India is still carrying it out with the same vigour. We (a team of six to eight teenagers) found different ways to engage with the people by using social media (at last we reached happy realisation that facebook can be used apart from stalking girls) and by creating empowering posters.
“Indeed I have lost quite some blood during that time. But obviously, I won many things at the same time.”
Regardless of the challenges we faced, I found it immensely joyful at the end of the day, that I did something for a cause which is greater than me. In a nutshell: Indeed I have lost quite some blood during that time. 😊 But obviously, I won many things at the same time. Just like the wonderful feeling of being able to save lives as well as many soft skills like teamwork, event management, understanding of human behaviour (turned out girls still like guys who play sports!!!), and negotiation.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston S. Churchill
P.S. If you also want to have the joy of saving lives, then find out the blood donation center near you by going to the website of Deutsches Rotes Kreuz.
Parth is passionate about many things: helping people(and boasting about it!), laughing at himself and enjoying simple things in life…or lack thereof. He also happens to be an Engineer and came to Germany to do masters in Engineering. Currently he is solving great problems facing the human kind (in other words analyst at BCG).