Amanda overcomes a fear of needles and becomes a regular blood donor

28 Sep 2012 – I had shaken off various mild and severe flu bugs, was medication-free and had caught up with enough sleep to attempt my 109th blood donation, delayed since July. I asked just one person along – my former research student, Amanda Tan who had worked on the Red Jungle Fowl and Ecolink small mammal projects.

Zendogs-Pengarang, May 2012
Zendogs ride to Pengarang, May 2012

We joke that blood donation was payback for the blood and tears of project supervision. Amanda had been hearty enough for forest work and was able to cycle with Zendogs to Pengarang during her honours year. But she was not yet a blood donor. Why? A fear of needles – still a frequent reason why some hesitate.

So in September lat year, she joined me, determined to meet the challenge!

Fear of needles? Obstacle 1 – the pin-prick to assess your haemoglobin count!

That morning, the Blood Bank @ HSA in Outram, my usual haunt, was quiet. The blood centres at Woodlands and the just-opened Dhoby Ghaut blood bank had thinned the crowd here. So Amanda, who was unable to get past the SingPass login for an e-appointment, could walk-in without much delay.

I watched as she winced at the pin-prick for a sample of her blood for the blood haemoglobin count. She cleared 12.5g/dL requirement easily, which is a barrier to several female friends over the years.

Meanwhile, I was ignominiously forced to rest until my exceedingly high diastolic pressure dropped to normal levels. I was cleared ten minutes later and the sign that all work and no play has been detrimental was timely.

I rejoined Amanda just as nurses were cautioning her about exertion after the donation. With her “be gentle to me, I’m a first-time donor” badge, everyone was extra-attentive, which she later said was nice, and which helped with her through the process.

Eventually, though, they were going to have to stick her with a much larger needle of anaesthetic!

If you can’t bear needle no 2 – look away and think happy thoughts!

20120929-Amanda_grins_after_two needle_ordeal
Once the blood starts flowing, it’s a home run!

Cheerfully pointing to a target - 50th donations (my droplet from 1999)
Cheerfully pointing to a target – 50 donations (my “blood droplet” from 1999)

Successful twin blood donations!
Successful blood donations!

She groaned a bit over the injection, but the pain dissipates quickly as the spot becomes numb. Then the wide bore needle was inserted and began draining 430ml of her life-giving blood. I was happy to see her cheerful and curiously looking over at our progress.

Minutes later the donation process was over and nurses clucked around her, asking her several times if she was okay, issued her with iron pills and a canteen chit before bandaging her arm.

The nurse was appalled that I wanted pink bandage too.

With her 1st blood donation was accomplished, the real test was next – would she be back in three months?

Back for more!

Amanda back for blood donation no 002
Back for more! Amanda’s second blood donation

22 Dec 2012 – Amanda returned with me for her second donation of the year! Her haemoglobin level was a healthy 14.4 g/dL, and mine, 16.4 g/DL (normal haemoglobin values are 13.5 – 17 g/dl for adult males and 12 – 15 g/dl for adult females). I was there for donation number 110.

This time there was no flinching and she even watched the needle inserted. She’s overcome her fear of needles to become a regular blood donor!

And this time, my request for a pink bandage to the nurse bandaging my arm, was met with an enthusiastic response, “awesome”!

Blood Donation Nos 002 and 110
Double-whammy: donations number 002 and 110!

Is there a need for blood?
Donorweb — Your blood is replaceable...a life is NOT !You can check Singapore’s Blood Stocks at Donor Web.

Right now, for example, stocks for blood group A are “very low”, while those of O and B blood types are “low”. Only AB is currently at healthy levels.

To find about donating blood, visit the HSA Blood Donation webpage.


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