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Tales of a first-time blood donor

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By Sebastian Garcia

Some people are under the impression that having blood drawn is a scary thing, as if a 200-year-old vampire was waiting patiently by your side for a taste of that red bodily fluid.
I accompanied Los Alamos Monitor Features Editor Jennifer Garcia on a recent photo shoot and learned that donating blood wasn’t at all scary, but perhaps even enjoyable.
After deciding on a whim that I wanted to donate blood, I signed a form that legally allowed the phlebotomists to draw it. I then sat behind a screen while a young lady asked me questions about my health, such as if I had AIDS or any STDs.
Once I passed the test with flying colors, I was led to a chair with a pump sitting next to it.
The phlebotomist poked at my arm for a few seconds, looking for a strong vein. She then produced an intimidating needle out of the drawer and jabbed it into my arm.
I learned that most people look away at this point, but I was curious, so I watched intently as the needle broke my skin and I felt it enter my vein.  
Almost immediately, I felt pain. It was nothing to cry over, but it still hurt. While I was watching the machine separate my blood and plasma, I had to squeeze a ball every 3-5 seconds to keep circulation. I also had to drink lots of water and eat pretzels to replace the nutrients I was losing from the donation.
One of the most enjoyable parts about donating blood was the company. Other phlebotomists came up to me and engaged in small talk.
At one point, I started to feel cold. I had chills all over my body and I wondered if the owners of the building turned on the A.C. Alas, it was just the room-temperature plasma reentering my body.
When the donation was over, my arm was wrapped up and I was allowed to go to a snack area where I had to stay for 15 minutes.
I proceeded to chow down on sandwiches, chips and ice cream.  After the 15 minutes were up, I was allowed to leave and continue life normally, with the thought in my head that my blood might actually save a stranger’s life.
If you ever get the chance, I strongly recommend donating blood. If not for the thought of helping fellow human beings, go for the food. It’s tasty and there’s plenty of it!