A few months ago, I wrote this article for work and was astounded by the amount of reception it received. So, I made the decision to post it on here too in the hope that, just like at work, it inspires you to do the same. This is not an advert, nor is it sponsored or anything like that. It is simply to show that there really is nothing scary or bad about it, in fact, its the total opposite.
On Wednesday 1st June, I turned 25. I had a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 25, bear in mind that one of the items on said list was to 'Do a somersault at Planet Bounce’ – (yeah, I live a rock’n’roll lifestyle). Seriously though, it took me 3 attempts to build up enough courage to even do that. But I did it, and you know what, I felt great afterwards. It was having that feeling earlier this year which has made the last 6 months the most rewarding.
There are two things left lingering that I have been putting off for years and years; climbing a mountain for fear of not being able to get back down, an unplanned remake of 127 Hours or failing to do it at all and the second thing, giving blood.
I joined the donor register on 1st March this year having finally listened to my Be Brave print (which I brought in January following my New Year resolution to STOP WORRYING SO MUCH) and booked myself in for the next available appointment which happened to be a few days ago, Monday 6th June. I know I am late to the party and a lot of you have probably earned your 10 times badge, maybe even more and that is incredible. I can now finally understand it for myself.
Giving the Gift of Life
I am a worrier, I over-think EVERYTHING and make up scenarios in my head that will probably never happen. I worried that they might forget about me and end up draining all 8 pints of my blood, not just 1. I thought about it and thought about it until I almost stood up and walked out of the waiting room not thinking I could go through with it in case it hurt. I think even at one point, I imagined my arm dropping off (I know right… Drama Queen!) But all that seemed to wither away once I read the Welcome Booklet and it explained to me where my blood donation could potentially go.
My mind was put at ease upon reading that the electronic machines CONSTANTLY measure and weigh your blood so they will only take 470ml. It told me that my blood donation could be used for those who have suffered severe accidents or cancer patients or for educational and research purposes to continue supporting people who need treatment.
It starts with a large drink, either water or juice then a small blood test (a tiny fingerprick test), which is then placed into some coloured liquid, to check your iron levels and that your blood will be safe to be drained from you. You are then taken to a reclining seat, your details are checked through and the needle is placed in your arm once you are laid back. You are given some exercises to do during the time it takes for the pint to be removed such as making a fist and releasing it, crossing and uncrossing your legs and tensing your thigh and buttock muscles to aid blood flow. You are then advised to sit for a few minutes and then help yourself to a couple of drinks and snacks from the table at the back of the room before leaving. After your first time, they advise you to stay away from hot drinks for 24 hours, strenuous exercise and hot baths or saunas whilst the area where the needle was placed forms a clot to avoid infection.
Now, I am never one to preach but the sense of achievement I felt walking out of that room was beyond anything I had ever felt before. Knowing that what I had just done, those mere 6 and a 1/2 minutes could provide someone with so much more than that. Even today, all I can think about is what I have done, what each and every person in that room on Monday did.
A selfless act for others, for complete strangers who need it more than us. The lightheaded-ness and lethargy suffered afterwards of however many people were there that night, is nothing compared to the gratefulness I can only imagine the individuals who receive these transfusions must feel. I understand now, why when I ask others who have donated blood, they can’t quite describe how it feels. It really is like nothing I have ever experienced knowing that bag of blood could be helping to save someone’s life today, tomorrow, next week or whenever, is incredible and extremely heart warming.
I recently even donated my second pint on blood on Monday 26th September.
I have my next appointment booked in for 16th January which is in 16 weeks and I cannot wait to continue feeling this way. I only wish I could do it sooner but I would probably need my own blood back if I did! It takes up to 8 weeks for your red blood cells to recoup that amount of blood back and plenty of fluids to keep your oxygen levels up over the first 36 hours after your donation. I slept for almost 13 hours that night as my body was clearly working so hard to try and keep my energy levels up (not that I am complaining about all that sleep!).
You can find out more information about how you can register and feel the way I did on Monday and still do today here – https://www.blood.co.uk/ – simply enter your postcode and it will bring up a list of local venues that you can register to attend and give the gift of life.