Tonight I’m going to be rehashing a topic I spoke about on my old blog. Sorry if you feel as though you’ve read this before! You might just have. It’s still an important topic very close to my heart, which deserves to be talked about again and again.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about something worthwhile that I really really support. As of 21st October, 2013, I’ve been a blood donor. My blood type is O+ (fun fact: I share my blood type with 38% of the donor population, and my blood can be safely given to a patient of any other blood group*), I have a tendancy to feel faint whenever I donate and I’m currently awaiting my 7th blood drive.
I thought I’d give you a bit of a low down on the blood donating process, in case there’s anyone reading who has always considered joining the register but hasn’t done so yet, for fear of the unknown. Trust me, I was exactly the same at first – had it not been for my friend Katy heading into town after a lecture at uni to donate and me tagging along out of curiosity, I’d probably be in the same boat!
So, you can donate once every three (men) or four (women) months, all being well – tattoos, piercings, or even just travelling out the country can affect this, but you’re given a quick Q&A assessment to get all that out the way upon your arrival. You’ll be directed to a booth to have a chat with a nurse (are you pregnant? Do you have three heads? blah blah) who will do a haemoglobin test, which feels a bit like having your finger stapled. Haemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the respiratory organs to the rest of the body, providing you with enough energy to power your metabolism. If you haven’t got the right haemoglobin levels, your blood won’t be able to provide poorly people will the right amount of nutrients to get their body back to normal. If you ever find yourself prohibited from giving blood because of your haemoglobin, a trip to the doctor’s can sort you out and usually you’ll be back to donating in a number of months.
The donating itself is surprisingly uneventful. Once your nurse is happy you’ve had enough to eat and drink (there’s free chocolate, crisps and squash everywhere and it’s fantastic), you’re sat in a chair, your arm is pumped up to get the blood flowing and wake your veins up and the needle is in. After that, you’ve just got to sit and wait! The nurse will give you some circulatory exercises to have a go at while you’re donating to stop light-headedness (speaking from experience, not ideal) – but they’re only small, like clenching your fists and twirling your ankles. Once you’re done, you’re rewarded with more food and drink and a chat. Last time I went, all of us in the ‘aftercare’ area struck up a conversation about Harry Potter, the new Star Wars film and the like. It was fun!
I would seriously recommend looking into giving blood if you can and aren’t already. It’s completely free and, having seen the life-saving effects of successful blood transfusions, I can guarantee it is completely worthwhile. My Dad was given an extra 19 years of happy life thanks to his back in 1996. It’s not even as if you’ll be needing the pint (or so) that you donate each time, as your body regenerates the blood in no time.
Visit blood.co.uk to get yourself clued up, or just have a nosey through @GiveBloodNHS on Twitter – a place where donors and receivers share their stories and you can see for yourself how just an hour of your time can be so massive to someone in need.