I decided to #giveblood a few days ago …
… not because I knew of a relative that once needed a blood transfusion or because I had a friend that once needed blood. Not for any heartfelt reason whatsoever.
I did it just because I could.
I had nothing better to do.
Isn’t that as good a reason as any?
I’ll always remember my lovely Nan giving blood when I was growing up, proudly displaying the many badges she received as a result of her loyal and faithful donations. The only reason she gave up after years of doing it was because she got sick.
As someone who is completely terrified of needles, it took me a good few years before I finally plucked up the courage to go along and see what all the fuss was all about. Also, being quite tattooed and pierced, I always found the timing wasn’t quite right.
Here’s the first thing you need to know about giving blood:
You must wait at least four months after having a piercing or a tattoo.
Here’s the second thing you need to know about giving blood:
You must wait at least six months before travelling outside the UK. If you’ve recently travelled (I’m jealous), it is worth giving their hotline a call (all details below) or checking out the health and travel section of the website before making any plans to donate.
Here’s the third thing you need to know about giving blood:
If you’re unwell (chesty cough or cold), have taken a course of antibiotics in the last seven days, have a cold sore, have had dental procedures / visits within the last seven days, are undergoing medical testing, have had an infection within the last two weeks or have cardiovascular problems, you might not be able to donate. I would recommend giving their hotline a call or checking out the website for more information before you make your appointment.
Here’s the fourth thing you need to know about giving blood:
Make an appointment using the website! The donation meetings only happen in specific places on specific dates and there’s usually a queue of people waiting to give their blood. It’s surprisingly popular… I blame the biscuits!
This was the second time I’d given blood which just goes to show it really wasn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. The waiting around is probably the worst part of it all, waiting to be seen after filling in your questionnaire, waiting to be seen after drinking your 500ml of water beforehand, waiting for the finger-prick test to check your iron levels (if you’re low, you can’t donate). It’s all a lot of waiting around…
And that’s before you even get in the chair and get stabbed with the needle!
Honestly, it’s really not all that bad. You sit there for fifteen or twenty minutes or so, occasionally forming a fist with your hand and moving your legs. The chair’s not all that comfortable… I guess it’s not meant to be. But once you’re there, stabbed and watching the blood drain from your body into the bag, you realise it’s not that bad and it’s not that scary either.
After a few minutes you do start to feel tired, as if the energy has been drained from you, although this was definitely worse the first time around. I barely felt it on the second run. That will happen when they take 470ml of your blood from you. The average human body contains about 4.7 to 5.5 litres so it’s quite a lot when you think about it. When I donated, I donated a couple of little bags on top of that to give samples for bone marrow donation. I’ll go into that at a later date. I’m still waiting to see if I’ll be accepted for a donor.
I felt good after I’d given blood. If I’m being brutally honest, half the reason I do it is for the good karma. But again, isn’t that as good a reason as any?
My blood group is O- and this means that anyone can have my blood. It’s a universal blood type. As the nurse at the #giveblood session told me, my blood will be the blood they call upon when they aren’t sure of the patient’s blood group. So if you’re O- too, you should definitely think about donating. We’re classed as ‘universal blood donors’. I like to think we’re special!
O Rh negative blood is rare but essential because it is the only blood type that can be given to anyone, regardless of their blood type.
Source: NHS Blood and Transplant
Red blood cells only have a shelf life of around 35 days. This is why the hospitals and other medical establishments need regular donors, people like you and me. 6,000 blood donations are needed every day to keep up with demand across North Wales and England.
What would happen if you needed a blood transfusion one day and there wasn’t enough blood to treat you? What if it were your mother or father who needed it? Sister? Boyfriend? Another loved one?
Taking just half an hour (max) out of your life and resuming normal activities for the rest of the day (unless you ‘milk it’ like me), why aren’t you doing it?
For more information on giving blood, check out the following links and information:
Hotline: 0300 123 23 23
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