Friday, 7 April 2017

My experience giving blood

Image: NHS Blood and Transplant

Giving blood can be a daunting experience and after wanting to do it for a very long time, I finally took the plunge and donated for the first time in November last year. Having had my blood taken when I was very young for a surgery to remove my tonsils, I was a little bit traumatised by the experience due to my young age and with time lapsing the fear grew of having needles near my blood again.

Despite originally being put off of giving blood from that experience, I have always thought very highly of those that do and wished I was brave enough to do it. When I was 12 years old I truly learnt the importance of blood donations, as without peoples kindness to give up their time and donate blood, I wouldn't have had four more years with a loved one. Even though four years may seem short, all time matters and every second counts. As I have gotten older the impact of that act of kindness of giving blood stuck with me, especially when my mum started doing it a couple of times a year. When I was 18 years old, she asked me if I wanted to go with her, but I was still to scared to do so and it took me four years to come round to the idea of going through with it (better late than never right?!).

My experience giving blood

My first time donating blood didn't exactly go well, as I went straight there after work without eating and then had quite a long wait, which resulted in me passing out not so gracefully afterwards. I also feel with the first time you do something you don't know what exactly to expect and the nervousness of it all can be daunting. One of the things I wasn't expecting to hurt was when they prick your finger during the health screen which actually hurts more than you would expect! I also had a massive mare when they were trying to put the needle in as the nurse couldn't find a vein, the whole giving blood process was very painful and uncomfortable. Once it was done, I got up to sit down at the food and drink table (for a sugar boost + to rehydrate) and passed out shortly after I sat down. I was only out a short while but it was a little bit of a traumatising experience and almost put me off giving blood a second time. I felt rough the following day but just took it easy and made sure to drink plenty of fluids. Despite my dramatic first time giving blood, I was determined to do it again as it was very rewarding and my blood type is one that is in demand. You see I'm O negative which is a universal blood type and it is compatible with anyone. It doesn't matter what your blood type is you can receive O negative and it is often used in emergencies. Only 12% of the UK population are O negative and it is often in demand hence why I really wanted to give blood a second time.

My second time giving blood went a lot smoother, I made sure I ate lots of food and drank lots in preparation for the appointment to ensure I wouldn't be unwell afterwards. We still had a long wait, it was probably 3 hours from when we arrived until we left but it's the one time you don't mind a long wait as you are giving up your time for a good cause. The prick on my finger still hurt as much this time round as the first but it is a necessary evil. The nurse I had the second time was amazing, she put the needle in my right arm this time and it made all the difference. It wasn't uncomfortable in the slightest and my blood came out a lot quicker, I ended up finishing giving blood before my brother which was an achievement as he started before me. I was also very cautious about getting up quickly this time and took my time, I ate plenty of food and drank lots of liquids afterwards. It went off without a hitch and I will definitely be donating again.

What is the process?
  1. You go online and book an appointment in your area
  2. You fill in the form you are sent in the post and bring it to your appointment
  3. You need to eat and drink lots before you give blood
  4. You show up to your appointment and hand in the form
  5. You have a health screening to ensure you are well enough to give blood
  6. You give blood (the big event!)
  7. You are then directed to a seating area afterwards and sit down for 10-15 minutes with food + drink
  8. You need to keep the bandage of your arm for the next 6 hours and they also recommend you don't do any heavy lifting for the next 24 hours

Have any of you given blood? If so what was your experience like? x
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