Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash
Donating blood might not be on the top of your to-do-list, it might even be on your most feared list, but it’s a selfless act that could actually save someone’s life!
How often can you say you’ve saved a life?
I’ve been wanting to donate blood for years but have never got around to it. A few years ago, my mum became very ill and had 10 life-saving blood transfusions while she was in hospital. After this, my sister and I promised ourselves we would donate 10 pints of blood to say thank you to the amazing people who donated theirs.
My sister stepped up and donated at least four pints of blood since then, but I haven’t played my part. Unfortunately, piercings, tattoos and semi-permanent makeup stood in the way of donating and there was never a good time. However, as my last piercing was back in February, I was finally allowed to give blood so I donated last week. You must wait at least four months after getting a piercing, tattoo or other procedure involving a needle until you can donate blood.
I was already registered to donate so I booked the appointment online by choosing my local centre and selecting an appointment time. You can also walk in anytime but you might be waiting a while until they are free. I chose an after-work appointment as it was my first donation and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel afterwards.
What to expect when you give blood
On the day, I drank plenty of water and ate proper meals. Once you arrive they ask you to drink at least one large glass of water and then they ask you some personal questions to make sure you can donate. They also prick your finger to check your iron levels, as people who are anaemic can’t donate unfortunately. Then they decide which arm is the best to take blood from. Once you’re all checked, you wait until the nurses call you up to sit in the chair.
Once in the chair, they strap a band around your arm and find a good vein. Then the needle goes in, but you can barely even feel it. The needle is quite big so if you are worried about it then just look away. Then they leave you to it!
It took 5:39 seconds to get a pint of blood from me, which is quite fast, or so I’m told. What can I say, I’m a fast drainer! It’s quite surreal seeing a bag full of your blood but also oddly satisfying. Once you’ve filled the bag the machine automatically stops and makes a beeping noise to alert the nurse. After this they remove the needle and apply a bandage to stop the bleeding.
The best part of the process is the free snacks! Once you’ve got your bandage on, you are encouraged to sit down and refuel for at least 15 minutes. That means helping yourself to crisps, chocolate and biscuits – for free! The worst part was having my finger pricked for the anaemia test, the donation didn’t feel uncomfortable at all.
I didn’t feel poorly after my donation, although I did get very tired a few hours afterwards. The next day I felt absolutely exhausted which must be because of the donation but after I had a good night’s sleep I felt fine. Giving blood was really easy and I will definitely do it more often now I know there’s nothing to worry about.
You don’t need a reason to give blood, its just a really kind thing to do. If you can donate, please do.
You can sign up to donate blood here.
Do you have a story about giving blood?