The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

That's Very Nearly An Armful!

I gave blood on Wednesday.

Amazingly, it’s 16 years since I last did, and I don’t have a good reason for it. It’s not like I’m too squeamish, have some kind of phobia or religious objection. My daughter had to have open heart surgery when she was 5 months old and if hadn’t been for blood donors around the country then it would never have been possible.

I’ve always intended to but for one reason or another never remembered when there was a team in the area I lived in, even if I’d seen the poster up or heard the announcement on local radio.

However, on Tuesday I saw a leaflet stuck in the window of the health food shop, so thought that I really should make the effort this time, as they were setting up in the town hall, only 5 minutes walk down the road.

Because it’s more than 2 years since I last donated, I had to fill out a questionnaire about my health and lifestyle habits, so the process took longer than usual. Having said that, I wasn’t sure what usual actually was. I can remember that I gave blood a couple of times in the past, but I can’t recall anything about it. The wee jab they gave my thumb to get a sample to check that my iron levels were ok was sharper than expected and caught me off-guard, and I couldn’t help but think of Tony Hancock’s classic “The Blood Donor” sketch (when the doctor takes his blood sample Hancock thinks that is all that’s required of him and gets ready to leave. As the doctor tells him it was only a smear Hancock replies, "It may be only a smear to you but it's life and death to some poor wretch." And when told he actually needs to donate a pint, he exclaims “A pint? Why that’s very nearly an armful!”).

I also can’t recall how much discomfort it caused last time. I’m not about to start moaning and say I was in pain, but I had quite a bruise afterwards and it was very tender to the touch for a day or two. Judging by the marks on my arm either I’ve had a slight reaction the sticky plaster (band aid), or it’s had an effect on the blood just under the skin. Looks a bit odd to me, but I have no idea if this is normal or not. I’ll just have to see next time I go, which will be in about 3 months or so.

I was told by the nurse taking my blood that there’s a real shortage of blood stocks at the moment and some operations are having to be cancelled. For the sake of 30 to 45 minutes, you could help save a life. I recommend you check out how you can donate now.

The National Blood Service (England & Wales ) -
The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service -
American Red Cross -


St Jude said...

Good for you, I wish that I could still give blood but I'm not allowed now. The plaster thing is ok, it happens, just the pressure from the plaster that has caused the bruising in that way.

Dr Maroon said...

If you close one eye, it looks like the face of Jesus.

Kim Ayres said...

St Jude - Is that because of the high blood pressure caused by trying to get registered at the doctor?

Thanks for the reassurance about the plaster.

Dr Maroon - actually I think it looks more like Gyrobo...

Gyrobo said...

In just a few short years, scientists will be able to clone all the blood they want. I heard about it somewhere. Google news? No idea.

Jagd Kunst said...

I've had a lot of blood taken, but I've never seen anything like THAT!

SafeTinspector said...

No one wants my bodily fluids.

Kim Ayres said...

Gyrobo - that'd be useful.

Jagd Kunst - welcome to my ramblings, and thanks for the reassurance

SafeTinspector - not even on the black market?

SafeTinspector said...

Kim: I don't trust the motives of the black market.
Oh, I updated the BCNAV with your changes. Thanks! Oh, and episode 10 is up.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for the updates, SafeTi

Attila the Mom said...

How's the arm doing today?

Good on you for donating blood!

Kim Ayres said...

The bruise is now much more purples and yellows rather than reds and browns. Not so tender now either, thanks for asking :)

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

I would, but I am excused on the grounds that my body regularly contains, amongst other subsatnces, anti-malarial prohylactic drugs, and several experimental treatments that I am currently trialling to prevent tapeworm infections of hedgehogs. I regularly visit Africa, and that is another no-no. Oh, and I hate needles.

Mrs Dr McC, on the other hand, is all for giving up her life fluids and has just been sent her new donor card. Not having one myself, I enquired if this meant when she dies that they take all her blood. 'Yes,' she said, 'they'll string me up, slit my throat and put a bucket underneath. So long as I'm still warm they can use the blood'

That was news to me. I hope they sterilise the bucket!

Kim Ayres said...

Well as long as you take plenty of photos and post them on your blog, I'm sure it'll be fine :)

Anonymous said...

16 years...hmm....been a bit longer than that myself. When I first gave blood in Edinburgh, we were offered a Guinness as an alternative to a cup of tea (a lot of strenuous thought required to make a choice here!!!). Perhaps I should trundle along for my armful (or armempty as it should more correctly be) but I fear I would have to take my own Guinness.

Good bruise and thanks for the alternative to the daff picture - much safer.


Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I saw Him! I saw Jesus in your bruise! O praise be!

I used to give blood as a student all the time but since moving to the US, I'm not allowed to give any here because of the Mad Cow. I slapped the nurse across the face, of course, and told her I wasn't a mad cow at all, (pained look, whiny voice) just 'highly strung' is all, and then she clarified that it was the BSE thing. I think tn years have to pass or something before the yanks want my filthy Scottish blood.

My dad had a kidney tansplant 5 years ago. Nobody noticed, until a swimming accident scuppered the other one, that one hadn't ever developed bigger than a kidney bean. His life was turned upside down, he had to retire early, and travel regularly to the mainland for dialysis. With diabetes on the rise, kidney and other organ damage is also increasing but the number of donated organs hasn't kept pace.

It's definitely worth looking into carrying an organ donor card and telling your family of your wishes. My dad's really active in the Scottish kidney patient association and tells me that George Best kind of put a lot of people in Britain off donating after his liver-transplant and his continued drinking and then, of course, death. But hell, it saves lives and improves life immeasurably for thousands of people. To let an extreme example like George Best's affect the decision to become an organ donor, seems a bit daft. And, just for the sake of argument, isn't the chance for life for someone more important than how they subsequently choose to live it. Plenty people on expensive NHS paid heart medications continue to eat a full cooked breakfast daily and MacDonalds for tea. In Scotland, at least, there is usually only one person suitable for a given organ when it becomes available, because our population is relatively small and tissue-compatability concerns automatically exclude most people from succesfully receiving the organ. So, while to argue that somebody else might not drink their new liver away and that George Best took someone else's chance at a new life away, makes a good and fair point. But, practically speaking, the whole donor-recipient match thing relies on the dumb luck of whose tissue type is compatible with whose.

It's kind of hard to know where the line is that we should start or stop demanding responsibility for people receiving any medical treatment. We're all just walking-talking brains and psychologies that often over-ride what's good for our bodies. I know I drink stuff that I know is bad for me, weekly and I probaly won't give up and I don't have a fraction of the trouble an alcoholic would have giving it up. Life is life in the end isn't it?

I seem to be opining all over a lot of people's comment boxes recently. Sorry! Don't know what's been coming over me lately! The blood donation thing just made me come over all kidney-business like.

Kim Ayres said...

Sandy - I'm not so keen on Guinness. Do you think they'd let me have a Glenturret Single Malt instead?

Sam - Maybe it's time for me to gouge the skin out, preserve it in salt and see if I can get more on eBay for it that the Virgin Mary on a piece of cheese on toast (

Thanks for the long comment - whenever I write a long comment on someone else's blog I end up turning it into a post for this one

Jagd Kunst said...

"The toast is not intended for consumption"

of course it isn't! It's got mary smeared all over it!

Jagd Kunst said...

Actually, it looks more like Modesty Blaze.

LindyK said...

Wow, that looks like nearly what happened to me the last time I was savaged by a wolf in nurse's clothing... I think they enjoy rooting around in my arm to "try and find the vein..."

On the upside, congrats for giving blood!

Kim Ayres said...

jagd - I think you might be on to something there

Lindy - "a wolf in nurse's clothing" - I now have an image in my head of one of those Warner Bros cartoon wolves dressed in a nurse's uniform!

Naomi said...


I always bruise quite badly as well.

I was a regular blood donor when I was in the UK. However since moving to the US I'm now banned due to living in the UK during the "mad cow" era.

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