Giving to Others: Giving Blood

Earlier this month, our blog post, New Year, New Habits: Giving to Others, highlighted giving as one of the key Five Steps to Mental Wellbeing. More and more research into giving reveals that people who volunteer feel happier and healthier. 

Whilst not everyone has time to volunteer regularly, there are less committed ways to volunteer and give to others. I gave blood for the first time this year and it wasn’t something I had ever considered until recently. 

In my first year at university, I fell ill and had to have a blood test which developed into a slightly traumatic incident which involved fainting in the middle of a fast food restaurant, as I tried to get food at 4.00am after waiting for hours in A&E.

Since that bloodletting incident, I decided from then on to keep my blood where it belongs and giving blood was something I was never going to do. This changed last year when a close friend and a family member had to have blood transfusions which would not have been possible without blood donors. 

I decided to be brave and booked an appointment online and really didn’t look forward to the day. A few weeks before, I received a form in the post requesting details of my medical information and before I knew it, it was my appointment day.

I walked in, handed in my medical form and was told to read a blood donation leaflet. There was a sign saying that the whole process takes about 60 minutes which instantly made me think ‘how much blood are they going to take?!’. It is under a pint by the way.

I had to go through my medical history and my iron levels were tested as they need to be high enough in order to donate blood. Having passed the second test, I joined another waiting area and was told to drink a huge glass of water. 

It was soon my turn; I was put into a big chair and tipped backwards. My vein was tapped and my blood was flowing. I was told to squeeze packet of gauze to help keep the blood going and not long after, the machine was beeping the end of my donation. It took 7 and a half minutes which I’m told is a decent time.

I made my way to the recovery area to have some more water and helped myself to snacks. All the staff were fantastic and really made me feel at ease. I was surprised and glad to see that the place was so busy with donors, many of whom were already booking their next appointment on their way out.

The rest of the week I felt more tired than usual and my arm was weak for a while. I wouldn’t call it pleasant but it wasn’t as painful or as awful as I had imagined. 

Whilst I’m not going to donate as regularly compared to some of my fellow donors (men can give blood every 3 months and women can give blood every 4 months), I’m planning on giving blood at least twice a year. 

Most people are able to give blood but only about 4% of the population are regular donors. We need to help change this because round 8,000 blood transfusions are carried out every day in England. Giving blood only takes an hour of our time and it can help save someone's life. 

Find out more about giving blood and book an appointment near you.

Please share your volunteering and giving experiences with us.

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