So, this week I did something that I would consider to be quite brave. I faced a fear I have harbored for many years, convincing myself that I would never do it and it wasn’t necessary for me to do. But then, a couple of weeks ago, I put my foot down with the anxious part of my brain and said that I can and I would do it.
I gave blood.
This may seem like such a tiny thing to some people, but this has haunted me for years and finally, at the age of 24, I was brave enough to go and help save someone’s life.
So, I know there are plenty of you who are probably just as scared as I was, so I thought I would share some cool facts I learnt whilst I was there and walk you through the whole process so that you don’t have to be as scared about it as it won’t be as unfamiliar and scary to you! 🙂
~ Signing Up ~
I signed up online, you add your basic details like your name, age, address and phone number and can book appointments from there to. The sign up process is crazy easy so there is no excuse really..
You can also sign up by popping into your local donation centre and they can add you to the donor register. You can also make appointments by calling into your local donation centre or by calling the phone number for your area 🙂
~ Day Before ~
You don’t have to do this the day before, but I did as I thought it would be the most accurate! You receive a blood donar questionnaire in the post, it asks you a range of questions that you have to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to and they will then go through this with you prior to you donating at your appointment.
I drank plenty the day before, as I usually do, and did my usual routine of the day. I didn’t change anything major at all.
~ Donation Day ~
On the day of my actual donation I made sure I ate at decent intervals throughout the day and drank plenty of water on the run up to my appointment. Being hydrated makes your donation time lower so less time with a needle in your arm! 🙂
~ Donation Process~
When you arrive you let the receptionist know you are there and waiting and then you are given some information to read through prior to donating. The information provided is all on the Blood Donation Website so I had read this previously but I did re-cap anyway. You are also asked to drink a pint of water or juice and eat some crisps before you donate. This keeps your hydration levels up and the salt from the crisps keeps your blood sugar stable throughout the donation time.
You are then ask to go into a private room with one of the nurses and they run through your donation questionnaire with you and answer any questions you may have before you donate.
They also test the iron levels of your blood to make sure you are safe to donate, if your iron levels are too low you may be asked to come back and donate in a few months time. They test this level by pricking your finger with a small needle and taking a drop of your blood and putting it into a chemical where the drop of blood either sinks (meaning your iron levels are fine) or stays at the top (meaning your iron levels are too low).
After you have completed this you head to another waiting area and wait to get called to a donation chair. Once you are on the chair your nurse will set up your donation bags for you, chat away to you and make sure you’re feeling comfortable. The chair they pop you in also tilts backwards so you’re essentially lying down during your donation which is nice a relaxing!
They then add a blood pressure sleeve onto your arm to keep the pressure raised a bit during donation, clean your arm for you and then insert the donation needle. This honestly, for me, didn’t hurt at all. The tiny prick from the needle to test my iron hurt a bit more! You then get start your donation, your blood firstly goes into a small pouch where some blood samples are taken to test your blood for any infections as well as to determine your blood type.
After these tests are taken the flow of your blood through the tubes is changed and it starts going into your donation bag. The machine makes little bleeps and beeps throughout your donation, they mean a range of things such as your flow-rate is going a bit too slow and so they encourage you to wiggle your fingers to increase the flow going into the bag or your blood pressure might be a bit too low and so they need to add more pressure to keep your donation moving along.
The donation bag itself has and anti-coagulant solution inside it to ensure your blood does not clot prior to anyone receiving your donation. The little machine you are attached to also tilts your donation as it is being made to ensure all of the blood is mixed with the solution.
From the time they insert the needle you can only donate for 15 minutes, after 15 minutes they will stop your donation and if you haven’t filled your donation bag they cannot use that sample. This is due to regulations and so on which I am not 100% sure of but it did make my mind feel more reassured that I wouldn’t be sat there for an hour with a needle in my arm, the most it would be is 15 minutes!
~ After Donation ~
After your little machine has bleeped to say you have finished your donation the nurse will come back and remove the needle form your arm, add a plaster and a pressure pad to the area and slowly tilt you back upright so that you don’t feel too woozey or ill after you have donated.
You then go to another area and are given another pint of water, juice or a hot drink and are invited to have another snack before you leave the donation centre.
I was hooked up to my machine donating blood for around 5 minutes. Once the needle was in I didn’t feel any discomfort and when they removed it I felt absolutely nothing, to the point where I asked the nurse when the needle would be removed but it had been around 2 minutes earlier! Ha!
You are advised to drink plenty of soft drinks for the rest of the evening, keep your plaster on for around 6 hours and take it easy after the donation process. So no heavy lifting or gym gear for you after you have donated!
I am sharing this experience with you guys to maybe encourage at least one of you to consider joining the blood donors register. I thought of it like this, imagine if it was my parent, sibling, friend or loved one who needed blood, and there was none to have as not enough people donate. Think like that, one day it could be very close to home, so do your bit and consider joining. It is so easy, hassle free and you are literally saving peoples lives with your donation.
They have also set up a new feature where you will receive a text letting you know when your donation has been used and where in the country it has been used. They don’t tell you the patient for obvious reasons, but that is one of the best things I have heard. How amazing would it be to wake up one morning and know through the night your blood has saved someone’s life or has given them the strength to keep on fighting for their families.
Blood donation is something I have shyed away from for so many years, but I won’t be any longer.
Sign up here to give blood.