I have donated blood 5 times now. I started back in 2011; my Grandad donated blood so many times and he inspired me to do the same. I took the mentality that if I ever needed it I would take it so if I was able to then I would donate. So, what is it like to give blood?
You can book an appointment to donate blood over the phone or via the internet. Luckily they send you a reminder as I’m not very good at remembering things!
Remember this post is based on my own personal experiences – it may differ venue to venue but here’s my experience:
Once you have booked an appointment you are usually sent a letter with a two page questionnaire – this usually asks questions such as if you have recently had a piercing, if you have been unwell etc – it’s all tick questions and you hand it in on arrival. If you forget – they usually have spares on the day don’t worry!
After you’ve checked in and completed your health questionnaire you usually have a little sit down before you’re called into a small booth. Here, you’re given a drink of water as you need to ensure your fluid levels are kept up.You are then asked to confirm some basic details. The donor nurse will then do a finger prick test (take a drop of blood from your finger) this is to check your haemoglobin levels to check that your iron levels are sufficient enough to be able to give blood. They usually pop the few blobs of blood from your finger into a test tube and time it. If all is OK with the levels – you will be able to donate.
Once you have done this you are asked to finish your water and wait for a chair to become free, then that’s when it’s time for the main event!
You are taken over a chair where you’re asked to confirm your details. The nurse will then label up the bag and vials with your details. They will then clean and sterilise your arm for one minute prior to inserting the needle. They will tilt the chair back in preparation – try not to fall asleep! It’s actually quite tempting if you own little people to catch 40 winks but I’m sure dribbling and snoring isn’t socially acceptable.
Now I know having a needle put into your arm doesn’t sound appealing, but it isn’t painful. You aren’t aware that it’s in there and doesn’t feel any bigger than a normal blood test needle. The needle will be taped onto your arm and you will be told to cross and uncross your legs, clench your bum and thigh and also clench and unclench your fist. This is all to improve circulation whilst you sit there. The donating of a pint of blood usually takes around 10-15 minutes. I have very good veins so I’ve been told so it doesn’t usually take that long. I usually take some music along so listen to that whilst I donate, it is a good distraction.
Once you’re finished, the timer will bleep and you’re all done, one pint gone. The nurse will unstrap the needle and take it out. Once its taken out of your arm you’ll be asked to apply pressure on the area with a cotton wool swab to stem any bleeding. A tip I was given – keep your arm straight as it reduces bruising!
Once they check it’s stopped bleeding, you will have a large plaster put on your arm which you’re advised to keep on for at least 8 hours. There’s also a cotton “pipe” that’s about an inch long which is taped on top of the plaster for extra pressure. You’re advised to keep this on for at least 2 hours. Once they are happy that you’re feeling ok you are asked to go and sit down for refreshments.
It’s amazing the selection of drinks and snacks there are – I ALWAYS opt for the orange club biscuit haha so apologies if you attend after me. Here you’re often asked if you want to book your next appointment. I also pick up the kids a sticker so they feel included.
Once you’ve finished your drink / snack they make one final check of your arm and away you go! My last appointment took 30 minutes start to end; I have had to wait a bit longer in the past but if you do have a spare hour and are able to donate – why not!!
It gives you such a sense of achievement and like you’ve really helped. I would love to think my donations in the past have helped save someone’s life.
Go on. Do something amazing today!!
Please note – all words are my own and purely based on MY experiences. Please don’t pick faults!!