5 September 2008

Giving Blood

Giving blood is something I became passionate about a few years back. We all have it and at sometime in our lives we'll either need it ourselves or know someone that does. It's something people take for granted when they have an operation or injure themselves or have a serious illness like cancer. And once you've received a blood transfusion, you can't give blood so I believe it's important that people donate blood while they can.

I can understand that people lead busy lives but 1 hour of your time up to three times a year isn't a massive ask to be able to save a persons life. I find it quite humbling when I realise that the blood I give will be used by a patient to save their life. Some people may need a few units of blood for a routine operation and others, like someone being treated for leukemia, may need hundreds over a long period of time.

Many people don't realise how easy it is to give blood, many don't think about doing it and some just don't get around to doing it. Most people will live or work near a venue where they can give blood. You can now make appointments at a time that suits you, so waiting times are reduced. As I said before it typically takes an hour to give blood from start to finish, although the donation is usually under 10 minutes.

You'll have to fill out a form that details your recent medical history and other risk factors that might affect your ability to make a donation. A doctor or nurse will then see you and take a drop of blood from your fingertip and this is tested for anaemia (haemoglobin levels). Then giving blood begins. You'll be taken to a bed where they prepare your arm for giving blood. Less than a pint is taken (470ml) and for most people this goes very quickly. Once your done, you can go and relax and have a drink and something to eat (biscuits, crisps etc).

Whilst you're at the donor session you can book your next appointment which saves time for you. If you'd prefer you can do this later over the phone or online.

Shortly after you've given blood for the first time, you'll receive a card to carry in your purse or wallet that has details of your blood group and donor number. This helps the National Blood Service book your next appointment quickly. It also shows the number of donations you've made and you get a different colour card every time you reach a different donation milestone.

If you've never thought about giving blood or ever been worried that it might be a scary experience then hopefully I've changed your mind. It's something most people can do until they reach 70 and most donors continue to do so. I managed to convince my brother to give blood and I encourage every person I can. I'm still struggling to convince my wife as she is a bit scared of needles!

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