After giving blood at the weekend I thought I’d do a little post about the importance of donating, if you can! Giving blood is something that I want to do forever providing that I’m healthy enough to do so. I didn’t have a great experience when donating the other day, I won’t go into detail because I’d hate to put anyone off, but I’m going to try and not let it stop me from donating next time. This post is not for the squeamish as I have included photos!
1 in 4 people will need blood in their lifetime. This statistic is huge in comparison to the amount of regular donors, at just 4% of the UK population. As 200,000 new donors are needed each year, there will never be too many people donating blood and I just feel that it’s so, so important to raise awareness about this. I started giving blood about two years ago; I had been on the organ donor register since I turned 18 but I never weighed enough to give blood until I was 24. If you’ve read my other blog posts you will understand that I have an extreme phobia of being sick, but needles and blood has never bothered me. In fact, I would go as far to say that I have always enjoyed going for piercings, blood tests and injections for some bizarre reason! Of course I was slightly daunted about giving blood, and the process, but it certainly wasn’t something I was scared of and I wanted to do whatever I could to help.
I’ll explain a bit about how the process works:
Once you’ve checked that you’re eligible to give blood and have signed up to become a donor, you can then book your appointment online via the Give Blood website (or by phone). You’ll then receive a form through the post a few days before your session to fill out about your health history. When you arrive to your appointment, you hand over your form and you are then asked to try and drink at least 500ml of cordial or water. You then have to go for a short ‘health screening’ where a friendly member of staff goes through your form and pricks your finger to test your blood to make sure your iron levels are fine. After this, providing all is okay, you will sit back on what I can describe as a basic dentist chair. A member of staff will clean your arm with antiseptic for 30 seconds, ask you to make a fist to find your vein, and then the needle goes in! The needle looks a bit scary because it’s so thick, but the pain really is no more than a ‘sharp scratch’. It usually takes around 5-10 minutes to donate just under a pint of blood. I usually take longer than this but at the weekend the weather was very hot and it happened a lot quicker than normal, hence why I probably felt unwell afterwards. After you’ve given your blood, staff will put a patch on your arm and slowly bring your chair back into the upright position and check you’re feeling alright, and then you can go for a hot drink and biscuits to give you a sugar boost. Once the staff are satisfied you’re fine, then off you pop! Simple as that.
Other than at the weekend, I have always been fine after giving blood. I have even gone straight to Derby to do some shopping before. At worst, I have felt a bit lethargic, but you are advised to have quite a restful day anyway. I have received nice little bits and bobs through the post, such as Give Blood keyrings with my blood type on it, and I have also received texts letting me know which hospital my blood has been sent to which really helps in making me feel like I’m making a difference. The official Give Blood website (link below) will contain a load more information than I can. I really, really hope that this post hasn’t actually scared anyone and if I’ve managed to interest just one person in becoming a blood donor then I’m happy!
Thanks for reading, as always! x