Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to Donate Blood in Spencer's Name

Anyone who's been reading along with Spencer's updates here on the blog, knows that he has received numerous transfusions of whole blood and platelets through the course of his treatment.    During his first two rounds of chemo he was given the transfusions whenever he started experiencing any symptoms related to low blood counts.  During the third round however, the doctors suddenly seemed much more reluctant to give him blood or platelets until his numbers reached critically low levels, meaning that he would suffer with the fatigue and other symptoms for several days before being transfused.  At first we thought that it was a difference due to doctor ideology, but in time we learned that the true reason for the reticence was that INOVA hospitals are suffering a critical shortage of blood and platelets and they had placed very strict restrictions on dispensing their blood products. 

It got me to thinking how selfish I had been to expect other selfless donors  out there to donate blood so that my son could receive life-saving blood transfusions and yet I hadn't donated in about 18-years.  So today I decided that it was high time to change that.  I donated blood this morning and  have documented the process here so that you could see how easy it was!  If you are eligible, PLEASE consider donating at the INOVA blood donor center in Spencer's name (or to benefit patients in your own communities if you live far away).    Blood donated in Spencer's name will not go directly to Spencer, but would be credited to Spencer's "blood account" and would make it less likely for them to be stingy giving him future transfusions.   


1.  Drive to the INOVA blood donor center at 3289 Woodburn Road Suite 010, Falls Church (at the corner of Gallows Road and Woodburn Road, right next to INOVA Fairfax Hospital).  Don't worry though--parking is free and much easier than at the hospital!   Walk-ins are welcome or make an appointment if you wish (see below for details)!

2.  Register--Bring your driver's license and register at the front desk, making sure you let them know that you're donating in Spencer's name.  Then fill out this eligibility questionnaire (check here for requirements).   If you've been unable to donate in the past, be sure to check the NEW REQUIREMENTS  that have eased up on a few restrictions, especially those involving travel to foreign countries.   

2.  Finger prick--This quick test just makes sure that you're not anemic.  I made it by the skin of my teeth with a hemoglobin level .1 above the minimum. 

3.  Donate--I donated whole blood, which took me all of 5 minutes and 39 seconds to donate.  Platelet donations take 1-2 hours and would make for a great time to catch up on some reading or tv shows on Hulu.  

4.  Rest, eat free food, and get yourself a cool bragging sticker. There was a whole table full of food and fridge full of water and juices to boost up your energy after donating.  I did not feel light-headed or dizzy at all, but still took advantage of a free snack while waiting the required 10 minutes before leaving the clinic!

5.  Go home knowing you just potentially just saved someone's life and that you're awesome


I spent two years living in a foreign country as a child ( or as a missionary) and don't think I'm eligible. 
CHECK THE NEW REGS!!!  Most foreign missionaries would be fine to donate under the new eligibility requirements (the restrictions don't kick in until after spending 5-years in most countries)  The one exception is for travel over 3 months to the British Isles, which because of Glen's 2-years as a missionary there is why he served as official photographer today rather than donating as well. 

I don't have time.     I did not have an appointment and I was in and out of the door in about 45 minutes.  With an appointment I imagine it would have been even shorter.  Platelets take longer, but as mentioned above would be a great way to get caught up on some reading or tv watching. 

I just gave blood a month ago. 
Way to go on being awesome!  While it's true that you can only give whole blood every 56 days, you can give platelets every 2 weeks.   Spencer has received platelet transfusions countless times during his treatment for leukemia and they are always in short supply. 

It will hurt too much.    On a scale of 1-10, the pain of giving blood was a miniscule .28, so stop being a wimp and just do it.   

I am too young.    16-year-olds will need a form filled out by their parents before donating, but anyone 17 and over can donate without parental consent.    If you're younger than 16, then thank you for showing interest and be sure to come back and donate when you're old enough. 

I don't weigh enough to donate (110-lbs). 
   For heaven's sake, EAT A COOKIE and stop complaining! 

I live far away from Virginia and cannot donate in Spencer's name.   First of all, let it be known that we love visitors and would happily house any stray blood donors who come our way, but if perhaps that's a bit of a longish trip for you, then please consider donating to your community's  blood banks in Spencer's honor.

I don't know what type of blood I have. 
It doesn't matter a bit!  Donate and find out what type you have!

I work all day and won't have time to come.
  Check it out!  They take donations until 8:00pm.

Check out the Facebook page my brother created, to invite others donate in Spencer's name as a birthday gift to him: 

The most critical shortages are for the following types of blood:

O+, O-, B+, B-, AB-, and platelets of all types

Other Important Info to Know:
This location is right next to INOVA Fairfax hospital, but has much easier (and free) parking:

Woodburn Medical Park
3289 Woodburn Road, #010
Annandale, VA  22003
Map and interactive directions
Hours of operation
Monday through Friday — 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Sunday


K said...

I can't believe you are trying to tell me I can actually give blood. I've been using my out of country stays as an excuse not to give blood for a long time.

Jill said...

Can blood be donated in Spencer's name at the other Inova centers, like Centreville or Dulles Town Center?

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