I have always wondered the mystery about creation of human beings. being a believer in the fact that god exists, i also believe that we are one of the best creations by him. our bodies appear to be very simple but the doctors reveal how complicated they are. i would also consider doctors as another gift of god. having experienced the not-so-good diseases within family and the numerous interactions with doctors, detailed ones, and googling through i have concluded human body is one of the best and most complicated thing ever created.
to look at a very lower level, the very magical fluid in our body is blood. it carries infections as well as medicines and travels through whole of your body. with medical sciences developing on the fact of increasing human needs, donation of blood has evolved as another kind of charity. a charity which can be done by poorest of all. like they say “necessity is the mother on inventions”, there have been various developments in this charity too.
i remember of a close relative, much younger to me and a victim of thalesemia being subjected to blood transfusion very frequently. though everything required to be done was done, he lost the battle at 13 probably. in those days mom showed me few pink cards with my father’s name inked and his blood group. though aware of the fact, i would ask her about those cards everytime i saw in her cupboard. humbly she would answer me, that my father got these cards when he donated blood for the needy ones in his business circle. since he helped someone, they would help us when we need blood basis these cards. “would you also do it?”, was her next question to which i kept silent.
i recollect being poked by needle for blood tests and some amount of the magical fluid taken for testing while i was down with malaria in5th or 6th standard. since then there have been blood tests for various reasons but not that frequent. i had got habitual with pricking of needle through the upper layers of my fair skin, then in the vein and the process of extracting blood in small quantities.
i remember my first blood donation when i was may be in college with my sister at a camp organised by our community. i was partly inspired by my mother’s stories about situations where my father had donated in times of need for his friends etc. the other part why i donated is for the special treatment we get right from entering the gate of the vast hall till we move out with our certificate and blood donor card. that was one instance of blood donation in my college days. i got into work after college but never got an opportunity to donate. i might have donated once for a very close maternal relative as a replacement bottle before i joined this vast bank in 2007.
i don’t recollect much till 2008, after which there have been blood donation camps yearly as a CSR activity and i participate. after being through new experiences of life since i started to work, my intentions behind donating blood have been different. one being it is a no-cost involved charity that we can do. second – like i couldn’t imagine my life after i lose my mother due to any medical reasons, there may be many others who cannot afford to lose their loved ones versus the cost involved to get a bottle of this magical fluid. i might help one such person if i donate once a year. of course, today i have more reasons for my survival apart from my mother – my beloved wife and our kiddo!
donating blood has been a yearly practice since then. the extra share of love that i get from my mother on the donation day in the form of sooji ka sheera (sweet one) loaded with nuts. she believes this is the best food to keep me strong and working all day after the donation. often we get emails from HR notifying of blood requirement for certain employee or the dear ones. i hadn’t donated on those instances since there wasn’t any requirement, for my humble fluid belonged to commonly avaialable O+ or the hospitals were far off to travel (in my sense). one instance where i made my mind to travel till lilawati hospital to donate for an employee’s mother who was to undergo a bypass surgery, he had already secured surplus donors with that email from HR to all employees.
somehow i couldn’t sympathise with the email from HR for blood requirements untill this happened with a very close person – my manager. his cousin was run over by a B.E.S.T. bus on his pelvic area when his bike skid on road in an effort to avoid collision with a cyclist, who was cycling peacefully in 2nd lane of the 3 lane wide road. he was admitted to ICU in lilawati and my manager was on his foot there. while i was in touch with him over phone for official reasons, i enquired about the situation there. the pelvic area was badly crushed, terrible bleeding internally, still in comma state etc. doctors were waiting for bleeding to lessen so a major surgery on pelvic area can be carried out. till then blood was supplied to him from external sources. after about 24 hours when the family and close aides had finished donating almost more than 20 units, my manager had asked HR for a help. HR helped by floating another email to all employees explaining the situation and requirement of about 90 units. this time i could easily sympathize with the situation as it was my manager’s cousin.
while i sympathized with the situation, i was adamant to travel to lilawati. i asked him if they have ties with blood bank in the city of lakes and i can donate there on his behalf. the answer was NO. lilawati replaces blood used with blood. like most bollywood movies say, “khoon k badle khoon chahiye.” i asked a few colleagues in my division for the sake of donation and giving me company till lilawati. majority denied based on their speculation of the person not surviving despite their donation. few turned up on pretext of some work holding up. while i was in touch of the situation, he mentioned about good response from other divisions. only few were rejected from donation for the medical reasons unknown to me. i casually updated the situation to anand and agreed to join me and donate. though he was willing to donate but not in sympathy. he usually donates magical fluid on 26 january every year and he had missed that year. since it was 28th january that day, we went for it. a peaceful donation we had in very comfortable beds of lilavati and a coffee thereafter. i enquired to my manager about his well being as he seemed to be the pillar for the distressed family and then returned back to work. after another day, he left for the heavenly journey. majority of those that i had approached earlier got a topic to say my donation went in vain. but me and anand had done it considering our least bit and remaining with the doctors who are experienced in their fields.
this experience gave me a new learning – we donate on humanitarian grounds and without any expectations. recently one another email from HR hit our mailbox about requirements of blood and blood platelets for an employee’s relative who is undergoing chemotherapy in pursuit to win over blood cancer. anyone willing to donate can reach at address mentioned. since i was yet to complete 3 months from my previous donation, i mentioned my inability to donate to the employee himself. this helps set right expectations and he can plan next actions. such requirements cannot be postponed or satisfied from e-tailers these days. he checked with the doctors and called me back informing that i can donate platelets. “i see. let me think over it and confirm you”, was my response.
it was never done before by me. i googled and got information that it is more safe to donate platelets than blood by the aphresis process. in the process, about 350-450 ml blood is extracted and sent to the container in the machine. the container is rotating continuously where the platelets and plasma rises up on surface due to centrifugal forces and many other heavenly forces. they are then extracted in a bag and the remaining blood is sent back to donor’s body. there is also an anti-clotting agent supplied in minute quantities to avoid blood clotting in veins. this process is repeated 7-8 times usually to collect platelets and plasma enough for one time for a deficient person. the process is quite easy and almost painless if needle is injected right. the donor has to pump the softball while blood is taken out and rest in peace loosening the muscles when blood is sent back through same needle. you may be given calcium tablets to chew while the process. i was explained this process before i signed the form accepting all consequences and giving rights to extract it. they extracted a sample from my right hand and took it for examination. CBC, HIV, Malaria, Dengue as well as few other tests are conducted to ensure the quality of blood. based on this information which is fed into aphresis machine, it calculates the number of times blood will be taken out and injected again.
the process then started as my sample was matching their criterias. the needle was injected in my left arm and blood started its route to the collection box. after sometime, the machine beeped and the lady instructed me to stop pumping the softball and loosen the muscles as the blood had started its journey back to my body. i followed the instructions. she enquired of any pain and i nodded in a NO. after i nodded NO, i could feel something coming inside my vein through the needle. sip after sip, like you take in frooti. each sip became larger in quantity within seconds and finally thrusts became unbearable. i raised my right arm to signal the discomfort and she hurried to stop the machine. the needle was taken out, changed and then inserted in my right arm by the lady herself. the process started almost painlessly. time passed, beeps came after beeps, each signalling one of the two expected operations while the bag was getting filled with plasma and platelets. the capacity of bag was about 1100 ml. at the end of 8th cycle it was full with plasma and platelets. final beep and the lady took off tapes, needle from my right arm. then opened the top cover of the machine to pull out the container that held my blood during process, the bag of platelets and plasma, two other bags which were used ocassionaly in the process to hold some residual stuff and the whole network of tubes connecting one another. this collection is discarded after single use.
while i was holding my arm folded tightly with a cotton, the lady guided me to reception for a coffee and glucose biscuits. a few precautionary instructions here and there were given while i was busy with coffee and biscuits. finally paper tape was applied on the cavities created by needle and i was handed over the detailed report of my magical fluid. just for reference purpose. i feel so thankful to god for helping me in keeping my blood good enough and giving me chance to donate to the needy. i pray for my well being to do more of these donations in this birth.
few simple advices for all :-
never try to analyze whether the patient will survive if you donate because you never know what magic your blood may do.
never delay in making a decision as you might not get a chance later to bring smile to a family.