I thought it would be nice to review my experience of giving blood in the hope that it will give others the push to go and donate.
Firstly, In the UK, it is so easy to sign up. Just go to http://www.blood.co.uk/ to find your nearest donation centre and dates available. You can choose a time to suit so, and there are so many centres you probably won’t have to travel too far (many colleges, community centres and town halls act as donation centres). You don’t even need to book a time/date (although it is recommended), you can just turn up and take the next available slot.
You will then fill in a quick questionnaire about your life style which will screen out high risk candidates. The national blood service unfortunately cannot accept donations from; “men who have sex with men”; people who have received blood since 1980; people with HIV; and people who have had tattoos/piercings in the last couple months. These are just a few examples of people who are classed as high risk for infection, (which could be deadly for the receiving patient). For the full list, go to: http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/who-cant-give-blood/
You then have a private 1 to 1, so you can ask any questions and they will test your blood for iron – for this reason it is highly recommended that you eat and drink plenty on the day of your donation. This is done by pricking a finger and taking a drop of blood – this is completely painless! If your blood has enough iron, and you ‘pass’ the questionnaire, then you are safe to donate and wait until a nurse is ready to see you.
You will then be called up and laid down on a trolley/stretcher. They clean your inner elbow, apply pressure and locate a suitable vein to take the blood from. They will then skillfully insert a needle, and you will feel a sharp scratch for a couple seconds. This is the worst part, and it isn’t even that bad, it lasts a few seconds.
They will then reassure you, and then you watch your bag fill up with blood. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes to take the required amount (approximately a pint). After that, they will take the needle out, apply a plaster and give you the usual advice of not to do any heavy lifting or exercise and drink plenty of water.
You will then be sent over to the ‘cool down’ area, in which you are offered drinks and snacks. Help yourself! After all, you need the energy and fluid to reproduce the blood you have just donated. You will then be asked if you want to donate again, and can make your next appointment there and then. That’s you done then, the whole process takes less than an hour and just think of the act of kindness you have just performed.
The blood you donate could save lives (as the blood is split into several components and each can be given separately). And lets face it, for something that is so easy and quick to do, and could potentially save several lives, there is no reason not to do it.
Do something amazing… Give blood!