Overcoming fear: Donating blood for the first time

I’m a scaredy-cat. I readily admit it. I hate needles. That’s always been my excuse for why I don’t volunteer for anything with a needle. Flu shot? No way. Vaccines? I still remember the sheer terror I felt from them growing up. Blood donation? Not happening.

That was until I became communications manager of the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in February. Our sole mission is to help save and sustain lives, and to do that, 800 people in our community must donate blood daily. That’s a lot of people who selflessly sacrifice their time and bodies to save others. Suddenly, it seemed extremely petty for me to be squeamish about a little needle prick when literally 20 minutes of my life could help someone else is probably going through the worst moment of his or hers.

I also started thinking about the people I love. If something happens to my husband, my father, my grandmother, neighbor or random person in the office, I’d want them to have everything they need to survive. Blood cannot be manufactured. A live human being must donate every drop used.

It’s a sobering thought.

And also, there’s the dreaded question I’d started getting at my new job: Have you ever donated? It’s a fair question. Every day, we’re asking people in our community to donate blood, and I really had no clue what all that entailed. I mean, I’d been to the lab to see how a whole blood donation gets separated into three parts — red blood cells, plasma and platelets. I’d been to the donation room and seen the kits phlebotomists use when drawing blood. I’d been to the hospital to meet children who depend on blood transfusions to live. But I’d never physically presented myself to donate.

And the more I learned about The Blood Center and our mission, the more I wanted to contribute. I wanted to help save lives.Julie Donation

So, I scheduled my appointment the first day of our employee blood drive. I wasn’t scared. I was excited. This place does so much good, and now I’m a part of it. It was my first time meeting phlebotomist Natalie Bodine, who works in the Bill T. Teague Neighborhood Blood Center. I didn’t know my blood type and had no clue what would be the most helpful, whole blood, platelets or plasma. Natalie said they always need platelets for all blood types, and I readily agreed to stay there the hour and a half it takes to donate them.

And then reality settled in as my excitement turned to something less positive. These people are literally about to drain me of my blood. I get squeamish just thinking about blood too much. I started to second guess myself. Maybe I should go easy and donate whole blood, which takes about 15 minutes. Donating platelets now sounded more ominous.

Natalie readily agreed, and placed a cold pack behind my neck to help settle my nerves. The chair was comfy. I could take a good nap in that chair. And then the moment of truth came. I looked away, as I always do at the doctor’s office when they need to draw blood, felt a slight prick, and then that was it. I was donating blood, and it really wasn’t a big deal at all.

Minutes later, Natalie told me I was in trouble. She’d checked my platelet levels and they were high enough that I could have donated triple platelets. Apparently, that’s a good thing for The Blood Center. She made me promise I’d be back when I’m eligible to donate again for platelets.

Blood Center News
Have you given a Holiday Hug?

One of the best parts of the Holiday Hugs tradition is reading the notes our donors write for patients in the hospital over the holidays. It’s not an easy task as each patient has his or her own individual circumstance, so we’re restricted in which cards we tie to each bear. Still, many of our donors are well up to the task.

Every day, someone’s life is being saved.

By Tammie Riley 

I learned something the other day. Every day, someone’s life is being saved. I know that seems obvious, but let that sink in. What may be a normal Thursday for most could be something completely different for someone else. And that’s exactly what happened to donor Gary Gilson. Aug. 16 was one of the most important moments in Gary’s life. Not only did he save lives that day, but someone else saved the life of his loved one, as well.

Hospital tour highlights need

A 3-year-old girl lies in a hospital bed in the middle of the room with monitors attached to her bare chest. She’s awake, but she doesn’t lift her head as we walk into the room. Still, she follows us with her eyes. The only sound we hear from her is a small cough while a nurse comes in to check her stats.


The Blood Center teams up with Sickle Cell Association of Houston

The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center partnered with the Sickle Cell Association of Houston to host a blood drive Sept. 15 in recognition of Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month.

Blood transfusion is one treatment used to combat complications from sickle cell disease, a form of anemia most likely to affect people of African descent. Prince and her now 27-year-old daughter, Quannecia McCruse, founded the Sickle Cell Association of Houston years ago to educate and provide resources to the community.


Drive and save lives

Penny, a local teacher with some free time over the summer, has helped us kick off our new Volunteer Driver program. Are you interested in joining us in our mission to save lives? Call us at (713) 791-6262 or email volunteering@giveblood.org.

Overcoming fear: Donating blood for the first time

I’m a scaredy-cat. I readily admit it. I hate needles. That’s always been my excuse for why I don’t volunteer for anything with a needle. Flu shot? No way. Vaccines? I still remember the sheer terror I felt from them growing up. 

We are always #HoustonStrong

We never know when the next tragedy will strike, but we have to be ready when it does come. 

Meet Eden

CYPRESS – There is nothing more American than baseball and saving lives. Everyone who participates in The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Home Run for Life competition will get a chance at both through June 30.


SuperMax is the hero Houston needs!

Max was born with a genetic disorder (neurofibromatosis type 1) that can cause tumors to grow on his nerve endings, and SuperMax has been his alter ego ever since. 

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center mourns Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush helped save lives in our community, and we celebrate her lifetime of accomplishments. The former First Lady set the bar high in her commitment to helping others.


Dr. Charles Drew: A Blood Banking Pioneer

Here at The Blood Center, we pride ourselves on being an organization of diversity. We work together to save and sustain lives, and we each bring a unique perspective when it comes to fulfilling our mission.

Tying the knot and saving lives

Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes, cars and many other things, but one thing it couldn’t destroy is the compassion for others in newlywed couple Gilbert and Stefanie Cruz. Gilbert and Stefanie were set to get married just a few days after Harvey passed, but due the storm’s aftermath they had to alter all of their plans on a moment’s notice.


Blood on ambulances helps EMS agencies save more lives

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has partnered with two local agencies providing emergency medical services to help save more lives when time is of the essence, now administering whole blood to patients on the ground.

Donor coaches hit the road sporting new look, features

In the last two years, five of The Blood Center's donor coaches have been refurbished. Find out why this is such an important process.

Circle of Life Bike Tour celebrates life

The Lone Star Circle of Life bike tour visits Texas cities to raise awareness of the need for blood, marrow, organ and tissue donations to honor those impacted by these donation types. This year’s eight-day, 600-mile tour included stops in Houston and College Station.

Blood Center Resources

Our mission is to partner with the community to save and sustain lives by providing a safe supply of blood, blood components and related services.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center
1400 La Concha Lane
Houston, TX 77054

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