First Time Donors Facing The Needle

By Kelly McCarthy

January 4, 2013 Updated Jan 7, 2013 at 11:20 AM EDT

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The New Year's Resolution Blood Drive has exceeded each of its daily collection goals. A big part of that success is due to first time donors facing their fear of needles.

Action News takes a closer look at the psychology behind overcoming that fear.

For some donating blood is as simple as a trip to the mall.

For others, facing their fear of needles can make it almost impossible.

"We often think of the pain or discomfort instead of the benefits of having the injection or getting the blood drawn," said Meredith Coles, Psychology Professor at Binghamton University.

The benefits of a blood donation can save up to three lives.

But how can you look past the temporary discomfort toward the bigger picture.

"What we often do is just try to get them to take a more balance perspective and how likely is it that they would pass out, and how bad it would it really be?" said Coles.

At the final day of the New Years Resolution Blood Drive held at the Oakdale Mall I saw a lot of green stickers on donors.

The green stickers are to show that someone's donating for the first time.

Trying something for the first time can cause additional anxiety.

"Something that makes us anxious or uncomfortable is uncertainty, not knowing what's going to happen. So one option might be to go with a friend, or watch some other people donate blood and see the process," said Coles.

And facing your fears doesn't always have to mean confronting them face to face.

"Sometimes we encourage people to think about what's happening, but in these situations I think it's not really bad for people to focus on something else," said Coles.

There's a few tricks to help you face your fears, the colorful stress balls at each table are used to help blood flow, but can also take your mind off the needle.

"You're concentrating on something else, you know OK I gotta squeeze the ball, I gotta squeeze the ball so it gets their mind off the actual needle," said Sheila Sullivan, American Red Cross.

Bringing along music to listen to or a book to read can also be a good distraction, and don't forget to remember what makes you want to donate in the first place.

"If you're donating blood that's a very important reason, that's a very noble goal, and it will probably be uncomfortable for a few seconds or few minutes but focusing on how many people you'll help," said Coles.

Your one donation can go far to help patients in need.

The New Year's Resolution Blood Drive ends Friday at 6:30 p.m.

So far, the four day blood drive has exceeded each of its daily goals.