I donated blood for the first time in 2001 in a mobile donation clinic. It was my first year of university, living in one of the residences at University of British Columbia. The mobile donation clinic was available because the university residence association had arranged a Save a Live blood donation event.
I have always thought it was a good deed to donate blood. I was also taught by my parents that blood donation is good for your health because it forces your body to generate new blood.
So I signed up without knowing anything about the blood donation process.
My first donation went very smoothly, and I was very happy to be able to help someone in need.
The university residence association arranged another blood donation event in my second year of university, and I donated blood again for the second time.
Then I stopped donating completely. The mobile donation unit never came to the UBC campus and I didn’t try to go to the donation clinic about 50 minutes away by bus.
After university, I moved back home with my parents to save money. When I finally moved out again in 2008, I found out that I was living near the Canadian Blood Services’ donation clinic in Vancouver.
Wanting to help someone in need, one Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2008, I took the bus to the clinic to donate blood as a walk-in donor.
Little did I know, I started a personal tradition…
Whole Blood Donation Facts
- About 450 ml of blood is collected during a single whole blood donation.
- The average adult has about 5 litres of blood. So each donation takes about 9% of your blood.
- You can donate every 56 days for whole blood for males, every 84 days for females.
- There are different blood types, AB+, AB-, A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-.
- AB- is the rarest blood type in Canada (0.5%).
- O+ is the most common blood type in Canada (39%).
- People with O- blood are considered universal donors because anyone can receive O- blood. But people with O- blood can only receive from O- blood.
- People with type AB+ are considered universal recipients for whole blood as they can receive them from any other blood type donor.
- Donors are screened every single donation. The screening process is lengthy and may seem intrusive. This is necessary to screen out people who are at greater risk of transmitting infections through their blood.
Some Personal Facts
- Since started donating blood again in 2008, I have visited the clinic regularly, usually whenever I became eligible to donate again.
- I have donated 57 times and counting. This means it would have taken me 3,192 days or almost 9 years to donate this many times if I were to donate whenever I was eligible.
- The entire donation process typically takes about an hour (i.e. checking in, screening, donating, resting). The actual blood donating part would usually take me about 7 minutes. This means I have spent about 399 minutes with a needle stuck in my arm, and have donated over 25.65 litres or 6.77 gallons of blood.
- I donate from both arms.
- My hemoglobin level is averaging about 150 g/L (you need a minimum of 125 g/L for females and 130g/L for males to donate).
- When I was younger, I was told by my mom that my blood type is B (doctors’ checked when I was born). When I started donating blood, I was told that my blood type is O positive. Weird!
Because I have been going to the same clinic in Vancouver regularly, many of the nurses know me. I have brought Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 with me a few times, so some of the nurses would often ask how the kids are doing. Donating blood has become one of these things I do regularly.
A number of years ago, a gentleman in his late 50’s was donating next to me. When he finished, the nurses circled around him and gave him a big celebration. Turned out it was his 100th blood donation!
I was in awe of his accomplishment. 100 donations would require a minimum of 15.5 years to accomplish. Talk about commitment!
And it was then, sitting next to this gentleman with a needle stuck in one of my arms, I decided that I would set having100 blood donations as a personal goal.
Last year I hit my 50th donation milestone and was invited to Canadian Blood Services’ Honouring Our Lifeblood event. In a room full of donors, I learned that some people have donated 100, 150 times, 200 times, and some even over 300 times. I was stunned and amazed by the generosity of these people and their commitments. (Some of these people donated platelet so they can donate every 2 weeks. I just recently became eligible for donating platelets and might give it a try).
How the heck does blood donation have anything to do with Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)?
Ha! I am kidding.
When I ponder for a bit on our quest for financial independence and my regular blood donation and my goal of hitting the 100th donation milestone, I realized donating blood regularly and FiRE have one single common factor.
It takes commitment to go to the donation clinic and get your fingers and arms poked by needles every 56 days or so. It takes commitment to donate blood regularly. Similarly, it takes commitment to be financially responsible, like spending less than you earn, paying yourself first, saving for retirement, building passive income, etc. It also takes commitment to do exactly the same things for many years and get in line and stay in line with your investment strategies.
It would have been easy to just stop donating blood. Nobody is forcing me to donate blood every 56 days. I am donating regularly to make a small difference and help others in need…. people like Holly who was able to live for one extra year thanks to blood donors.
Similarly, nobody is forcing you to spend less than you earn. Sure, you might get into a lot of debt if you don’t, but it’s your choice. Nobody is forcing you to save and generate passive income so one day you can become financially independent and possibly retire early. It is simply a personal commitment.
It takes years to reach the 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300+ blood donation milestones. These milestones are not something you can achieve overnight. Similarly, becoming financially independent and retiring early both take time.
Another similarity is that you must take care of the small things. To donate regularly, you must look after your own body, make sure that you are not overweight, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and eat iron-rich food. To become good with your finances and achieve FIRE one day, you must take small actions every day to make sure you are tracking toward your financial goals.
I am still a few years away from reaching my 100th donation milestone (it’ll take a minimum 6.6 more years). As you may know, we have decided to prolong our financial independence journey. Therefore, for 100th donation and FIRE milestones, I know that we will achieve them one day, they simply take time and commitment. My wife and I are not in a rush. We keep reminding ourselves to enjoy the small things in life each day and that today is the greatest day of our lives.
Because it is.
*** Donating blood in Canada is completely voluntary and you don’t get paid. So no, I don’t sell my blood to expedite FIRE. I just thought it is a silly post title. :p