How to Prepare for Blood Donation: Practical Advice from Facebook Followers

July 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm

The Saisslins know how to prepare.

On our Facebook Page, recently we asked followers, “Blood Heroes: What advice would you give potential donors about how to prepare for a successful first blood donation?” We received thirty-two responses from experienced donors eager to share their tips and tricks. This post showcases their best practical advice on how to prepare your body for blood donation.

Thank you to all the Blood Heroes who shared their wisdom!


Jan: My advice is 1) Drink a lot of water prior to donation. It helps the phlebotomist find a suitable vein. 2) Eat iron rich food 3-5 days leading up to the donation. 3) Tell the PSBC staff this is the first time donating and don’t be afraid to ask questions and indicate which arm you prefer they use for the donation.

Sean: Get a good night’s sleep before donating.

Deb: Be sure you’re well hydrated so they can find a good vein. Wear a short-sleeved shirt, too.

Bill: Shave your arm where they are going to put that ridiculous sticky tape on it!

Emily: If you have long hair, don’t put it up in a ponytail or a bun (it hurts when you lay down).

Bill: Ladies (heck … and men) might be better off wearing pants that day rather than a skirt.

Naomi: If you work out regularly, plan your workout schedule so that you will have a good 24 hours of rest after the donation.

Kirsten: Have a solid meal and fluids ahead of time, and relax. Plus there are cookies when you’re done!

Venice: If you’re a vegetarian, eat tons of food that is high in iron.

Michael: Spinach is a very good source of iron. What I do is put spinach instead of lettuce in my sandwiches.

Greg: Once you’re done, they treat you to juice, coffee and cookies. Go every 56 days because they always need the blood!

To see more practical advice about donation or to find answers to commonly asked questions, visit this page on our Website. You can also call 1-800-398-7888.  The next blog post will have the best advice on how to motivate your mind and how to overcome concerns about donation.

Why I Love Volunteers and My Job!

July 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Jan and Augie, Long-Time Volunteers with whom Cecilia Stevens has Worked at the Silverdale Donor Center

By Cecilia Stevens, Volunteer Services Coordinator at the Silverdale Donor Center

I have the pleasure of hearing many stories and meeting many lives that have been touched by the Blood Center. Volunteers who join us often stay for years doing jobs such as registration, donor monitoring, administration and transportation. Without these wonderful individuals, we could not succeed and I would not have this great job!

The most important part of my job is developing and nurturing ongoing relationships. Also crucial is training volunteers well so that they are confident in their jobs. Every day is different and exciting. It is not stress-free, but no job is, and the reward is knowing you are helping others give something special of their time and talents to a very special organization. I thank Puget Sound Blood Center for the privilege of being a Volunteer Services Coordinator.

If you wish to become a volunteer for Puget Sound Blood Center, learn the many ways you can help.

In My Own Words: Why I Coordinate Summer and Holiday Drives

July 7, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Dennis Smart is the blood drive coordinator for Mercer Island Covenant Church

My name is Dennis Smart, and I am the blood drive coordinator for Mercer Island Covenant Church.

On the morning of January 8, 1997, my doctor called me and told me that I had an incurable form of Leukemia. As an avid blood donor, donating blood 85 times in my life, I always thought that I was doing something worthwhile. However, following my Leukemia diagnosis, this privilege was taken away. I decided to continue helping others by volunteering at the Bellevue blood center and at mobile blood drives on the Eastside.

In 2004, I learned firsthand the value of blood donation. I experienced out-of-control internal hemorrhaging, and I could not produce blood fast enough to offset the blood loss. It was then that I realized just how important the availability of blood was for people like me; without blood, I wouldn’t have survived.

While continuing my volunteer work for Puget Sound Blood Center, I learned that almost 20% of our community blood donations come from high school and college blood drives. When these schools are closed in the summer and during the holidays, our community must rely more than ever on churches and community groups to hold blood drives.

I approached my church, Mercer Island Covenant, about this opportunity to help safeguard the community blood supply. The church agreed to schedule blood drives on the Monday before Christmas and during the summer. Our parishioners and other Mercer Island donors have shown that they are anxious to help at these critical times.

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that, although I can no longer donate my blood, I can be helpful in very meaningful ways. Each time that I serve as a blood drive coordinator and volunteer at a blood drive, I think: today, I might help save another person’s life, just as mine was saved in the past.

Learn about organizing your own blood drive

Write your own blog post about Puget Sound Blood Center

The Infamous Money Question

July 5, 2010 at 11:31 am

Fundraising isn’t for everyone…

Post by Bob Forgrave

I was sitting down at Starbucks having a great conversation with a fellow swimmer on my new Swim For Life team when we got to an awkward pause and he finally asked with a wince the question that had been bothering him for a while. “So…I know this is a fundraiser. Do I have to go ask my friends for money?”

It’s an important question, and for some folks, a tough one. This swim exists today because of what it has done so far—most recently helping to fund part of two bloodmobile purchases—and because of the difference it can make now and in the future. The more money you raise, the more potential lives you can save by linking donors and recipients, like Randy Yamanaka and Rosalie Jewett, who were matched by the bone marrow registry that this swim now supports. The Puget Sound Blood Center even has a letter and an online donation site to help get you started.

But even without that dedicated effort, the swim makes a difference, with each team’s registration fee covering the cost for 1.4 people to join the Be The Match registry. Personally, I found that number both comforting and a bit odd. One person and a 40% person? One 40% taller or wider person? In the interest of neatness, I felt compelled to fix this metric, so I committed to paying for our team in full, then just adding each swimmer’s individual reimbursement back into a larger total for our team. I told my team member that, and his relief turned to enthusiasm about possibly recruiting more team members from his master’s team—which, when you think about it, is another way of asking friends to contribute. Different strokes for different folks.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that my no-fundraising method of raising our contribution to a neat round number means that our team’s participation will cover the Be The Match registry costs of…2.45 bone marrow donors? Crud. That’s still not an even number! Looks like we may be doing some minor fundraising after all…

Puget Sound Blood Center needs 100 swim teams to raise $55,000 in funds for bone marrow donation registration on Aug. 18. Click here to register for Swim for Life. To learn more about forming your own team (four swimmers and a kayaker) or about swimming solo, visit:

A History of the Swim for Life, a.k.a. “Donor Party Crossing”

May 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Swim for Life, 2008

By Scott Leopold, Founder of Swim for Life Across Lake Washington.

On Aug. 18, 2010, there will be 400 swimmers, 100 kayakers and dozens of small power craft on Lake Washington raising $50,000 for bone marrow registration. Swim for Life has come a long way since I started it 13 years ago by swimming solo across Lake Washington.

My inspiration to start the Swim for Life came from a very good friend, Steve, who lost a son to leukemia at the age of three. Steve is one of my heroes: He’s on Puget Sound Blood Center’s Tree of Life, which means he has given 100 or more donations. I met Steve in 1996. In 1998 I decided to drum up a little excitement by encouraging the public to donate blood at Puget Sound Blood Center. That’s when I swam solo – guided only by my friend Pat in a very small kayak – from Medina beach to the UW Husky Stadium – almost four miles.

Pat Anderson, Lori Wolfe, Scott Leopold First Swim for Life, Sep. 19, 1998

After three years of this grueling event I decided to make it more attractive: It’s hard to get people excited about a four-mile swim, so I chose Madison Beach 2.5-miles to the northwest. It was important to me that Swim for Life (initially dubbed “The Donor Crossing”) to maintain an important bragging right: a complete open-water swim all the way across the lake, and I don’t mean across some skinny portion, like the north end of the lake; I wanted something that was really worth writing home about.

Bob Forgrave joined me in 1999. Things really started to gel in 2001 when a couple dozen swimmers signed on. Now it was more than just a bunch of us Microsofties. I rented canoes from the UW Waterfront Activities Center haul them over in a 15 foot moving van. Then in 2003 I towed a dozen canoes from the UW to Medina, swamping several of them in the process. By the time we hit the water in Medina I was already exhausted.

In 2004, I decided to turn Swim for Life into a fundraiser for Puget Sound Blood Center. Microsoft Employee Jason Lucas joined us (actually, his whole family did!) by swimming with us that year. He has been one of our leading boat safety captains ever since. We had about 66 swimmers and raised about $12,000. In 2005 we raised a bit more.

Swim for Life in August 2009 at Medina Beach

In 2007 Bob’s “team approach” to the Swim for Life won me over and it was a fantastic decision: We expected about 75 swimmers; 150 showed up! We ran out of t-shirts, schwag bags, even registration forms. What a great problem to have.

2007 was a milestone for the swim because Puget Sound Blood Center officially began a partnership with the Swim for Life, and because Karl Langlois, who heads Seattle Region 10 Patrol and Rescue, joined us. Karl is a special asset to the swim because his network has gained the support of dozens of spotter/patrol boats and several USCG auxiliary vessels. Karl made – out of his own pocket – over a hundred bright orange safety flags that each paddler will carry to quickly summon a nearby speedboat in case a swimmer needs attention.  Karl even writes an official NOTICE TO MARINERS, which warns boaters and seaplanes to steer clear of our event.  Last year, one of Karl’s USCG auxiliary officers waved off a seaplane that was coming in to land:  It was carrying a rather well-known software company executive.  Today, our “safety armada” of speedboats and USCG auxiliary vessels boasts trauma kits, defibrillators, and two paramedics.

Come Join Us!

One Hundred and Fifty swimmers raised $20,000 in 2007, 260 swimmers raised $25,000 in 2008, and 322 swimmers raised $29,000 last year. In 2007 we had a 12-year-old boy swim the entire 2.5 miles, and in 2008 his 10-year-old buddy joined us. It boggles my mind.

I believe in three things: Put your money where your mouth is, lead by example and be the change you want to see in the world. I urge you to contact your friends and save lives by forming a swim team for Aug. 18 (visit I’m living proof that one man really can change the world.

I wish Pat were here to see what he helped me build.

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