Every minute somewhere in Austria blood a (450ml) unit of stored blood is needed, however, hospitals are usually critically short on blood. Only 3.5% of the Austrian population regularly donate blood (source: Rotes Kreuz) which I think is frankly embarrassing as well as highly egotistic.
Being a healthy woman I never saw a reason for not giving blood. Being A negative and therefore of the rarer kind in Austria was another incentive to start as soon as I was legally allowed. Actually, the first time I gave blood I wasn’t even of legal age (a couple of weeks short) but with written permission from my parents I was able to participate in the “blood rally” the Red Cross had at our high school. Since then I have successfully donated 14 times in Vienna, twice in Lower Austria and once in Canberra, Australia. With approximately half a litre each time this means that I have given more blood than currently run through my system.
Usually, I will rock up at Rotes Kreuz Blutspendezentrale in the 4th district four times a year. This is the maximum allowed for women (men may donate up to six times). However, I have regularly been unable to donate due to recent illnesses, international travels or a too-low haemoglobin marker.
Last Friday, though, I was once more successful: I showed up, filled out the form, had my vitals checked and my finger cut (for the haemoglobin marker) – and already had my first sense of achievement before the needle even pinched my skin: my haemoglobin was at 13.4! This need not mean anything to you, however, it does to me since I have so often been turned away for it being to low. Last time as low as just over 10. To me, having my iron levels in order was a huge sign that I’m doing something right in my nutrition and lifestyle.
So I got the all clear to proceed to the doctor who once more informed me of the possible risks and advised me to be careful for the rest of the day (no driving for 30min after giving blood, no scuba diving on the same day, easy on the alcohol etc.). Then I was finally allowed to lay down and have my blood taken. Easy as.
The whole procedure took less than 10 minutes (more like 5) and just like every time the nurses were sweet and caring and careful and very much afraid I was going to faint. Fortunately, just like every time I didn’t, but walked steadily over to the adjacent room to be fed.
That’s very important, obviously, and the ladies there take their job very seriously. You won’t leave the building until you’ve eaten and drank. But what? So far I’d always eaten a pair of frankfurts but now? What do vegan blood donors eat?
When I asked whether they had something veggie I received the most disdainful look – but also fresh bread and tomato as well as chili-capsicum spread along with Manner Schnitten 🙂
Afterwards I continued my usual Friday routine and took an ample walk towards Westbahnhof, picking up the new Vego chocolate bar from Veganz on the way.
This is how my arm looked like on Sunday evening, by the way. All good.
There really is nothing overly exciting, painful or else about giving blood that could pose an excuse for not doing it.
It’s simple, it’s free, it saves lifes.
Are you a regular blood donor? If not, what keeps you?