I am writing this post the morning after giving my first blood donation. It is something I have always seen advertised online, on the TV and in the doctors surgery, however this year I decided to do my part and make my first donation.
Most of us have blood pumping around our bodies that can be used to save another person’s life, or to keep them alive to spend their final days with loved ones. What an amazing gift to gift someone – literal life!
I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous beforehand but right now less than 24 hours later I am feeling completely fine. Read more to see what the experience was like.
So why should we give blood?
Blood and the components of blood are used to treat all sorts of medical patients including cancer sufferers, those with blood disorders, terminally ill patients and those with anemia. Right now 6,000 people in the UK are needed every day to give blood to keep up with the demands from hospitals and patients.
Who can’t give blood?
- If you weigh under 50kg
- Anyone under the age of 17
- If you have or think you may have HIV/AIDS, HTLV or hepatitis
- If you have traveled to certain parts of the world
- Have a cold/flu
- Find out more here
I am the type of person to hype things up in my head and convince myself something may go wrong. So my first tip is to not work yourself up! I was physically shaking when filling out the medical/lifestyle questionnaire even though everyone looked perfectly ok in the room and nurses were so reassuring and comforting.
First thing to do was to have my paperwork scanned in seeing as I was a completely new donor. This took two minutes and I was whisked away to a curtained off area to talk about my questionnaire answers and have my blood tested. The blood test is via a prick on the finger and they check your iron levels to see if you are fit to donate. I passed all the tests so my next stop was to sit in the reclined donation chair.
Here they will check your details again and get you ready for the donation. I chose my left arm for donation so a blood pressure cuff was placed on my upper arm and squeezed it tight to get my vein up. After being cleaned with antiseptic the needle was inserted into my arm which was just a quick scratch and the blood started transferring to the blood bag right away.
To get the blood moving quicker I was advised to keep creating a fist and to get the blood circulating to the extremities to keep moving my legs and clenching my butt cheeks. This all worked perfectly and I was done after six minutes. The blood bag is on a scale which beeps when it has reached the amount of 470ml (a pint.)
When your donation has finished the needle is removed, which again was a sharp quick scratch, and pressure is applied to stop the bleeding. After a minute or so this will be replaced by a cotton pad and plasters. They sit you up slowly to make sure you feel ok and are assisted to the refreshments area where there was water, juice and lots of treats to choose from.
I am going to be real here, not to alarm others, but I don’t want to lie.
A couple of minutes after sitting down I started to feel faint and nauseous. Luckily the nurses had their eye on the ball and assisted me back to a reclined donation chair so they could raise my legs above my head. I did this two times and by the third time sitting in the refreshments table I felt pretty much back to normal and I went back to work.
I have a tendancy to get so worked up that after the event has happened (and it wasn’t bad at all) I get a huge wave of adrenaline which knocks me sideways. I half expected it and hoped it wouldn’t happen but that’s just how my body responded. There was another person in the room at the same time as me who responded the same way but it’s nothing to worry about.
Has that put me off? Not at all. I will 100% be doing it again as it’s an amazing thing to do for another human being.
What can you do?
Please consider doing this. It takes half an hour and it can really help someone out there. There were more older people at my donation centre than young and this surprised me to be honest. Let’s spread the word about giving blood.