A few weeks ago I donated blood for the first time. This was something I’ve been meaning to do for ages and I’m so happy and proud that I eventually did it. I actually work in a hospital lab where the hospital’s blood bank and transfusion department is. This means I get to see first hand the amount of blood that is needed and all the reasons it is needed for, all across the hospital. From emergency blood for major haemorrhages in A&E to being used to treat conditions like anaemia, each donation is incredibly valuable.
Before donating I was a bit apprehensive but now I would say there’s nothing to worry about. You need to book your donation online first and find a donation centre that’s near you. They’ll give you an appointment and I would say to arrive in plenty time. When you arrive at reception they’ll give you some information to read through and a big glass of water and a packet of ready salted crisps to eat and drink while you wait for your appointment. When donating blood you lose fluids and salt, so being well hydrated and eating crisps beforehand ensures you recover better.
A member of staff will then call you over and you’ll sit and go through some questions together before they carry out a finger prick test to check your iron levels. If everything’s ok and you’re able to donate they’ll take you over to a chair where you’ll sit while the donation takes place. I think the part everyone would be most worried about is the needle and, although I’m not really scared, I’d never had any blood taken so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I looked away while the needle was inserted and while it felt like a very hard pinch in my elbow it only lasts for a couple of seconds. The donation takes about 15 minutes and, once the needle is in, isn’t painful at all.
After you’ve donated you’re given a drink of water and slowly walk over to a table where you’re offered drinks, biscuits, and crisps. The best bit is you can have as many biscuits as you like as they’re to help your recovery. Once you’ve eaten and drank plenty, you’re then free to leave. The whole process was really comfortable and easy and the staff are so attentive and friendly which really made a difference.
After the donation you will be contacted by NHS Blood Donation with your blood type and where your donation has gone to be used. I found out that I’m O+ and my blood went to Blackpool, which I find really interesting to know. They also send a letter and a key ring with your blood type on to say thank you.
It’s so important that as many people as possible donate blood, if they can, as it makes such a difference to patients. By just spending a short time every few weeks donating blood, you could be saving lives. The NHS Blood Donation website gives loads more information if you want to know a bit more. I really want to encourage as many people as possible to donate blood because it’s so important and so easy to do!