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 ) - http://www.blood.co.uk/
The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service - http://www.scotblood.co.uk/
American Red Cross - http://www.givelife.org/