Friday, 1 July 2016

Blood Donation

Hello, Everybody!!

This post idea has been at the back of my mind for a while now and was actually something I was going to post for a long time until I was rather disappointingly kicked in the face with my own act of kindness. I am a blood donor- to some extent. When I made my first donation in October 2015 I managed to donate about 3/4 of what they usually take. The machine was beeping and people were playing around with the needle in my arm because my veins were so small and the blood wasn't coming out quick enough.

In April 2016 I went back to go for my second donation because I heard that this quite often happens on peoples' first donation. When I arrived they did the usual thing, checked my form was completed correctly, did the pin prick test on my finger to check for anaemia and I was away. I got all the way to the donation seat, and then a nurse came up to me and asked for a weight and height. I was a little offended, to be honest, and I told her that I'd been asked that question on my last donation and was fine, but she checked anyway. It was only because I am young and quite "lanky" for the want of a better word. This turned out fine, but when it came to finding a suitable vein I was eventually told that my veins were far too small and that I would be unable to donate blood. So although now I have been told to wait until I am at least 20 and to then try again with blood donation, I decided it is still important for me to talk about why blood donation is so important.

"Why should I become a blood donor?" you may ask. There are two quite simple answers to this question. The most obvious answer is that the NHS needs the blood. 6000 donations are needed a day across England and North Wales to provide treatment to those that are very poorly. Blood transfusions are needed for people that have complications during pregnancy; for people that have severe anaemia; people who have suffered trauma during accidents or natural disasters and for people require complex medical and surgical procedures. The other reason why you should become a blood donor is because doing so is such an incredibly rewarding experience. To know that the  pint of blood in which you have donated will be going to someone who needs it much less than you do is such a wonderful feeling. At the end of the day, you are saving somebody with the donation in which you are providing and that is such a phenomenal pleasure, and to walk out of the door and be able to tell someone that you have potentially saved someone's life today is certainly not something worth missing out on.

Not only are 6,000 donations needed a day across England and North Wales, but 200,000 new donors are needed a year which is why it is so much more important for you to sign up on now to make sure that people's lives can be saved with our all important donations. We need new donors every year because unfortunately some donors eventually cannot donate anymore, this can be to do with ill health, age or even because after many years of giving they have actually needed a transfusion themselves, and thus can no longer donate.

In order to be able to give blood, there are a few things that you will need to be to be able to qualify. Firstly, you need to be between the ages of 17-65 to be a new donor. You also need to make sure you are fit and healthy, if you cannot pass the health questions at the beginning of the donation process you will not be able to give blood. You also need to weigh over 7 stone 12lbs in order to donate, however, this can change depending on your height, so you are best to check this on the Blood UK website. You need to be prepared to answer questions when you get to the donation venue because the nurses will be thorough in checking that you are the right candidate for donation- particularly as the nurses do not want to be risking your own health in order to take your blood.

The process is so easy, and if you book an appointment time you will also find that the donation is super quick and will only take about 20-30 minutes out of your day, which trust me, you can find! When you arrive, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire if you haven't already whilst you sit and drink a pint of water. You will then be taken into a little cubicle whereby the nurse will carry out a health screening, which is essential, to check that you are not anaemic and to answer questions such as, "Are you pregnant?". You will then be moved on to your blood donation which can take anything between 5 and 15 minutes depending on how quick your blood gushes out of your vein -sorry if I made that sound grim. After come the best bits, a free drink and a snack! On your first donation you will only be allowed a cold drink such as some squash, but after your second you can also have a cup of tea, which in my opinion you would be crazy to turn down.

Before I leave I thought I would list some quick fire facts as I wasn't really sure where to place them in this post but I also felt like you may still want to know them:
1. There are three different components of blood:

  • Red blood cells- which this blog post is about.
  • Plasma
  • Platelets.
And you can in fact make donations for all three of these.

2. There are 8 different blood groups: A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+ and AB-; O- and B- are the rarest and O+, which is my blood group, from my knowledge is the most popular blood group in the UK, with that blood group making up 36% of the population.

I hope after reading this post I have inspired you to sign up to and do something amazing today.
Emily x