“ The NBS is an integral part of the NHS, that guarantees to deliver blood, blood components, blood products and tissues from their 15 blood centres to anywhere in England and North Wales. „
"Do something amazing, give blood."
That's the tagline for the National Blood Service, also known by many as "The Blood Donation People". By visiting one of the many clinics they host at locations around the country you can donate blood and save a life.
Let me just start this off by explaining that I am not good with needles. I'm better than a friend of mine, who faints at the sight of them, but I'm still pretty bad. One of the reasons why I started to give blood is because I wanted to get better with them, and to a certain extent, I'm getting there.
-- Before You Go --
Before you make your visit you should check the website (blood.co.uk) and take their quiz to make sure you're suitable to be a blood donor. They have a long list of very stringent rules about who cannot give blood including, unfortunately, gay people. You may also be banned from giving blood if you have travelled out of the country in recent weeks, been on medication or felt unwell. If you're unsure then rather than waste a journey you can phone their helpline and one of their helpful staff will be able to advise you appropriately.
On the day of your visit you need to make sure you eat and drink as normal, don't skip breakfast especially if it's your first visit. You should also take a book, iPod or phone with you to amuse yourself, especially if there's a long wait. I would also highly recommend that you inform a family member or friend where you're going so that, if absolutely necessary, you can call them to come and escort you home, but more on that later. I'd highly recommend wearing a t-shirt or short sleeved top as otherwise you'll have to roll it up quite high for the donation.
You can try to book a space in advance via the website or just show up when you want. In my four donations I have booked twice and shown up twice and in all honesty I can't see much difference in wait times, if anything is depends on how busy they are.
-- Prepping When You're There --
So, you've shown up at the day's clinic. If it's your first visit they will take your details and ask you to fill out their questionnaire. If you've been before and have your donor card then they will scan it to get your essential details, but you will still need to fill out the same questionnaire (recent medical history and the like). You will then be told to drink a very large cup of water (most people are slightly dehydrated, which makes you more likely to feel ill) and then have a seat until someone calls your name. Your form will be put in the pile and you'll be given an information pack to read and then pass along (it includes information on how you'll feel after you've donated, what might be done with your donation and why they are so strict with who gives blood).
Once your form comes up you'll be called over to a screened area for an iron test. This is a pinprick in one of your fingers, from which a drop of blood is squeezed into a test tube filled with coloured liquid. The nurse will set a timer and see how long it takes for your blood to sink, the quicker the better. Last time I had this done I was informed mine was dropping like an anchor, no anaemia for me! I have seen people turned away from this stage before, if you are informed that you anaemic then a quick trip to your GP might be beneficial to see if there's anything you're missing from your diet.
The fingertip test is the point where I start to get quite nervous. A needle in my finger is still a needle and I do have a wobbly-lip moment. However all the nurses have been absolutely lovely, the last one I had was in training but was very good at calming me down and assuring me that it would all be sorted quickly. The medical staff have seen fainters, vomitters and panic attacks, a 20-something woman getting a bit sniffly is nothing to them, so if you're worried that you'll embarrass yourself, don't be!
Assuming your blood is rich in iron and isn't floating somewhere at the top of the test tube, you'll be sent to another waiting area. The final point before blood time.
-- The Donation --
At this point I tend to be scoping out the exits and telling myself to stop being such a baby. Luckily they don't generally let you hang around too long (in case you make your escape) and you're soon called over to a large blue bed-chair. If you know what arm you want them to take the donation from then now is the time to tell them, I always go for my right arm as it has a very obvious vein. I also tell them that I'm not a good patient and if they can't find the vein first time then I'll be out the door like a scalded cat.
So, coat or hoodie off, roll up the sleeve of your preferred arm, sit back and relax. I tend to have my earphones in at this point as music helps calm me down a bit. A blood pressure cuff will be put around the top of your arm, to help them find the vein in your elbow. Your arm will be swabbed with antiseptic, then you'll be told to make a fist (and in my case, turn and look at the wall) and then...ow!
I'm being a baby, it's the same as any needle. If you're fine with immunisations then you'll be fine with this. They take three small tubes of blood for testing to make sure there's nothing nasty lurking in your cells and then you're hooked up to a bag. In total it takes around ten minutes, my first was closer to twenty as my blood pressure was slightly on the low side. You'll be encouraged to wriggle your fingers to help keep the blood flow going nicely. You'll know when you're done because the machine collecting blood will flash a green light and start making a beeping noise, at which point one of the staff will come over, unhook the bag and take out the needle. You have to sit still for another five or more minutes holding a large wad of sterile material to your elbow to stop it bleeding, it's a pinprick BUT it's also a vein so it needs a bit of help clotting up.
Again, this is the point where people start to feel ill. I must admit, on my fourth (and, so far, last) visit this was what happened to me, but I stupidly ignored it. If you feel dizzy, light headed or otherwise just "not quite right" then tell the nurses so they can assess and treat it then and there.
-- The After Party --
This is the bit we all show up for! The drink and snacks. You and your fellow recent donators will be given a seat around a table, you'll be asked if you want tea or fruit juice (orange or lemon) and encouraged to eat some biscuits or a packet of crisps. If it's your first donation then they will insist on your having juice rather than tea, something to do with your body pumping more blood around to cool you after a hot drink, which doesn't work well if it's not used to coping with a pint less than normal. You can also pick up a sticker here, I always choose "Be nice to me, I gave blood".
Now, time for my wobbly story. As I said about, on my last visit I didn't feel very well after the donation. I kept getting a very strange pins-and-needles tingling feeling in my face. As far as I was concerned though this would all be fine once I had some food in me as all I'd had for lunch was a cheese scone so I was feeling peckish.
Sadly though all the seats at the table were taken when I made my way over there and there was no spare one nearby. The tingling feeling came back, which because I was now standing up made my legs start to feel wobbly. The nurse at the table took one look at me and went "she's fainting!" and I was suddenly surrounded by four nurses and a doctor who dragged a bed out from behind a screen, got me on it, and then dragged it back behind the screen for a bit of privacy while they sorted me out. I'm fairly sure I wasn't about to faint, but clearly they had seen the signs and frankly I didn't feel great.
My legs were elevated by the other end of the bed-chair. A cold wet paper towel was put on my forehead and another was put on my neck, a nurse got me a drink of orange squash while a rather handsome doctor folded up some paper into a fan and proceeded to fan me (which did nothing for my blood pressure). The drink was to help with my blood sugar, the cold towels were to slow my blood down a little and give my blood pressure a chance to even out.
A few tears slipped out at this point and I apologise profusely to the doctor, the nurses, the poor donors who had just seen me get rushed away, given half a chance I would have apologised to the curtains. All the staff assured me that I wasn't the worst they'd seen and the doctor even regaled me with the story of his first blood donation which had seen him faint clean away and wake up with a goose-egg on his forehead because he managed to hit a bedframe on his way down. There were longer gaps between the facial tingling coming and going so after a few minutes I was encouraged to sit up on the chair-bed and have another drink, and then carefully escorted back to the table to eat and have another drink. The nurse at the table checked on me frequently, and I was asked if I had someone they could contact to pick me up.
Unfortunately I didn't as my family were all a two hour drive away and I hadn't thought to mention it to any of my friends. Hence why I said about that you should tell someone who will come and get you if necessary. Chances are you won't need it, but if you do then it's just an extra precaution that the staff like to take.
-- The Days After --
If it's your first donation then at some point in the days (might have been 2 weeks) after you donate you'll get a call from the NBS thanking your for your donation, informing you of your blood type if you don't know it (I'm A Positive) and asking if there's anything they can do to improve.
They have a lot of information about how you might feel after giving blood, but obviously everyone is different. In the hours after my first donation I found it very difficult to get up the stairs at home without feeling as if I was trying to climb a mountain. Luckily that has since worn off. I do feel ravenously hungry the day after donating, which I assume is my body over-compensating for having to replace the blood. The bruise has been minimal every time, which I assume is down to the staff being very good at what they do with inserting and removing the needle.
-- Overall --
This turned out longer than I expected. But for those too bored to read; the staff are very friendly and aren't bothered when you faint. If you are worried about fainting, don't be, because they've seen it all before. In total it takes around an hour, but that's mostly waiting around, the actual blood taking is very quick and you can have music or your phone with you to keep you occupied.
The two biggest problems I have with the NBS are thus; Firstly you never find out what your blood is used for. I know they can't give out details due to Data Protection, but I would at least like to know if it has been used for an emergency or routine treatment. Secondly a lot of their donations are held on weekdays. I would probably give more often if the place local to me held weekend donation sessions, but instead I have to travel up to Ealing on the occasion that they do it. If they want to encourage more people to give blood then they need to make it a little more convenient by doing more sessions at weekends.
If you are healthy, pass their questions and aren't scared of needles then frankly you should go and give blood. I can't stand the damn things and I still do it. I consider it paying it forward in case I need a transfusion in the future. If I never need it, then I've paid it forward for someone else.
I decided when I was 17 that I wanted to give blood, as someone who donated blood saved my cousin many years ago when she had a very bad case of meningitis. I wanted to be able to save someone too, and thought this was a good way to help.
I found out the time and date of my local blood donation session, and went along to see if I was suitable to give blood. The staff were really nice and helpful, and they answered all questions I had, made me feel totally at ease. I had to go through a small questionnaire to check my suitability as a donor, and it turns out that I was totally suitable. I also had to have some blood taken from a pin prick on my finger to check if I was anemic. This actually hurt more than the donation of blood itself.
When it came to my turn to donate blood, I was asked to lay on a bed, and all my details were checked to ensure I was who I was when I walked in lol. I was asked again if I had any questions, and the whole process was described to me as it went along. A cuff was placed on my arm to help find a vein, and the needle was then inserted into my arm. This does hurt a little bit, but nothing more than having a blood test done.
Roughly a pint of blood is donated each time, and I personally take around 8 - 10 minutes to donate this much, but time will depend from person to person. You are checked throughout the process, and are never left alone, so there is no need to have any worries. When your donation is done, a staff member will remove the needle, and pop a small plaster on your arm. You are then asked to lay still until you feel ok to get up and go sit in the food and drink area.
In the food and drink area you are given crisps, biscuits and small snacks, along with tea, coffee, water, milk or fruit squash. They like you to eat at least one thing and have a couple of drinks before you go. They check how you are feeling before they let you leave, and they won't let you go until they are happy that you are ok.
I found the whole donation process to be nice and simple, and no where near as scary as I expected. All the staff are lovely, and helpful, and they never make you feel pressured, so if you change your mind, you can leave. I now give blood as often as I safely can, and I recommend that anyone who can give blood to do it, as it can safe so many lives, and it really is not hard to do. To find your local blood donation sessions check out the website www.blood.co.uk.
*This review is also on Ciao under the name of Hailee.*
This review does not claim to be an in depth view into the running of the blood donor service - I am not a nurse and have no experience to qualify my comments other then that as a "customer" to the donor service ie I give blood.
I am quietly proud of this since I do believe it takes a bit of courage to begin to do, but as I sat in the queue yesterday and imagined waiting in a hospital corridor for news of a loved one after a traumatic accident I quickly realised that really it is "the least I can do".
Giving blood is one of those things that is easy to say - I'll do that someday and never quite get round to it. Indeed I registered in a fit of enthusiasm and then came up with a whole range of excuses to delay my first appointment! All credit to the service - they didn't give up on me and sent me a range of invites to local centres and info sheets in case I was getting cold feet. Feeling both encouraged by their willingness to coax me in and guilty at the money I was wasting as they pursued me I made my first appointment and turned up at my local playhouse theatre where the mobile session was taking place.
The appointment system is useful. Years ago in a life before children I had given blood several times but had been put off by the lottery of a queue and the unpredictable nature of the time out of work required. The appointment system now guarantees you a time and even with a queue the staff do their very best to ensure that appointments are kept within a reasonable time.
When you arrive at a session you present the information sheet you will have received in the post and fill out a short questionnaire regarding recent travel; body piercings and sexual activity which may have exposed you to HIV or hepatitis. These answers are treated entirely confidentially so no need to worry.
When my turn came a smarty uniformed nurse collected me from the seating area and took me to one of 4 booths to discuss my answers and check any worries they or I had about donating that day. I take some quite strong migraine meds which don't affect the blood I give but might make me woozy if I give too soon after taking the tablets. The nurse always calls over the Sister to double check this which is reassuring.
Next comes a pin prick finger test so that a drop of blood can be dropped into a test tube to check your haemoblobin levels - if the blood sinks within 15 secs you're ready for off. This is the only time you are likely to see any blood and if you are troubled by this I am sure the nurse will take great care to help you avoid doing so.
After this short interview I was led to a bed and given the option of left or right arm and the bed arranged accordingly. In this case the beds were arranged in a circle which gave a little privacy but also a feeling of community - very clever.
The beds are wipe cleaned between uses and pillow support adjusted over any space where someone's feet may have been! Everything is wrapped for hygiene and there are no worries about cleanliness.
Now the good bit - the nurses. I have yet to come cross a tiddled off nurse or a grumpy face. The nurses are well aware that you may be feeling a little uncertain etc and are always ready to chat or reassure as needed. Considering how many encounters they must have each session this is no mean feat. I was talking to a nurse yesterday and asked if anyone refuses at this point. She said they were always careful to tune into the person they were dealing with. Occasionally people find the whole process too much and are distressed - at that point they say that perhaps giving blood is not for them. They reassure that there are other ways to give back and always make sure the worried person still gets a cup of tea and positive words - no one is made to feel bad in any way. after all, the person has tried and that is to be rewarded in itself.
If you are ok with everything, an arm belt similar to a blood pressure device is attached and a needle is then placed in your arm. This is attached to a tube and a bag to collect the blood. Your arm is supported by a special device on the edge of the bed and if you don't want to look you can easily avoid doing so. The nurse will chat about nonsense with you to distract you if you wish too! A sample of blood is collected to check for serious infections and this is labelled with a computerized label to match with your blood donation. All of this happens through one needle and although you feel a sharp zing as it goes in, within seconds you don't feel anything at all.
You lie on the bed while the blood is taken (I actually enjoy the peace!) and then are given a short recovery time. Many years ago giving blood as a student I remember having to move to a different section of beds at this point and ending up crawling across the room! Thank fully this is a thing of the olden days and you are now rested with the presence of a nurse as you jointly assess when you feel ok to move. He/she stays with you as you first sit up and helps you to your feet. Very few people feel dizzy and those who do get to lie down again at any point - even if you have left your own bed.
And then - your reward: a cup of tea or coffee or juice and your pick of biscuits. Never has a cuppa tasted so good. Your have done a good thing; someone else has boiled the kettle and is watching over you as you sit awhile - warm, fuzzy feeling does not do it justice.
If this has not made you feel faint or queasy then why not sign up today and give it a go - if it's not for you then you will be supported through the experience. If you can do it you can bask in the smugness of having done a really good thing - it will put a spring in your step for the rest of the week (although it's always worth telling the other half that you're stiil a bit woozy as you might get another cuppa with your feet up!)
DISCLAIMER If you have a fear, phobia or just general hate of needles and blood this review may contain information that may be upsetting.
Being a qualified nurse, I have first hand experience in how important donated blood can be in order to save someones life. Having worked in A and E and also on a surgical unit I was often required to set up a blood transfusion for a patient. This could be down to loosing blood in theatre or a life or death situation following a serious accident. The one thing I do know is that without this donated blood a huge percentage of these patients would have died.
The national blood service, consists of a dedicated team of qualified and non qualified staff who often travel the country in order to visit various locations where the public can attend to donate blood. These locations can be extremely varied and can range from local sports halls to a specialist National blood service lorry set up in your local supermarket car park. The main purpose for these various locations, is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for the public to gain access to this donating facility.
The national blood service website has a fantastic tool. In which you can type in your town, then they will provide you with information on the nearest donating session in your area. They even have a great facility which allows a large group of co workers to apply for the service to be brought to the work place. This happens in establishments such as factories or large company organisations.
I could pretend at this point that I have given blood, no one would be any the wiser. I am however a very honest person and so need to clarify right now that I have never given blood. The only experience I have of the national blood service is knowledge I gained through my nursing and the first hand experience of how important giving blood is. For this reason I do not mind if you do not rate this review. I dont even mind if you feel the need to give it a nu rating. As my main priority in regards to this review is to highten awareness of this worthwhile cause. Incase you are wondering I am not able to give blood due to being on medication.
It is important to note before you enter a blood donor session that these sessions are run and manned by proffesional health care workers. There are always qualified nurses in the venue. Plus health care workers who have had extensive training.
When you first enter the venue you will be greeted by a member of staff. They are trained in using good communicative skills and therefore you will always be made to feel at ease. If it is your first time to give blood, you will be given a welcome pack and application form. This is just a series of questions that ensure you are safe to give blood. You will be given adequate time to sit in the waiting room and read through all this information.
When you have been sat for a while, a qualified nurse will ask you to go into a private area. She will then read through the information you have provided and ask a few more detailed questions.
It is vital that you understand before you attempt to give blood, that these questions do require very personal and probing information. An example of a question is .. Have you ever had sex with a stranger for money or drugs? Im assuming if you have, its not something that you would wish to divulge to a complete stranger. However it is vital that you are truthful, as this blood is going to another person.
Hopefully you will be deemed fit for donating. If this is the case the nurse will then take a sample of blood using a lancette which is a very small needle. These are so fine that it is very likely that yu will not feel a thing. The nurse will prick the top of your finger and draw a drop of blood in order to test your haemoglobin levels. This is basically a safety procedure as if you are anaemic it could lead to complications to your health if you gave blood.
Providing you pass this test, you are then lead through into the donating area. In this area there will be lots of other people donating too. You will be placed on a treatment couch and the qualified proffesional will place a cuff around your arm. This is used basically to plump up your veins in order for the nurse to insert the butterfly needle.
As the blood is being pumped from your body, via gravity. It is being fed through a complex machine. This computerised machine is able to seperate the components of your blood into platelets and plasma. This allows the blood you give to help save even more lives.
Everything that is used on you through out the whole procedure of donating is sterile. No needles or lancettes will be used again. They are disposed of safely in a sharps bin. All the staff working for the national blood service recieve regular blood tests themselves, in order to provide the utmost safety for the donating public.
During the time you are giving your blood, it is fine for you to lie back and relax. The blood is donated at a reasonably slow and safe pace and the donating time is usually about 40 mins.
The nurse who is looking after you will make sure that you are ok and not suffering from any ill effects. She will regularly check up on you and be there should you feel whoozy.
After your blood donating session. The nurse will gently remove the needle and dispose of it safely. You will then be advised to take your time and not to jump up off the bed. When you have had five minutes to gently get off the bed, you will then be taken into a refreshment area where there are free tea and biscuits!! (bargain)
You will then be contacted via the information you gave, every three months. Many people are avid donators and thisin turn gets recognised through a gratitude award scheme.
A thankyou pack and a red donor card.
A blood group coloured key fob. Blue donor card.
10TH SESSION (BRONZE AWARD)
bronze donor card
bronze award pack.
25TH SESSION (SILVER AWARD)
Silver donor card.
silver awards pack.
50TH SESSION (GOLD AWARD)
Gold donor card.
gold awards pack.
75TH SESSION. ( EMERALD AWARD)
Green donor card
emerald awards pack
100TH SESSION (DIAMOND AWARD)
Although these rewards are great and rather essential in order to thank donators. The best reward is the knowledge that you have helped save a life.
For the first couple of days after a donating session. You may experience aching in your arm at the site where the needle was. This will subside after a few days.
I really hope that by writing this rather detailed review I will have inspsired someone to give donating blood a whirl. I wish I could. It really is a precious gift that we can offer someone in need. The thing is one day that person in need may be you!!
Thanks for reading.
Giving blood is something that we should all try and do. I would like to share my experience of being a first time blood-donor.
I was walking past my local Community Centre when I noticed a large National Blood Service Vechicle parked outside, my immediate reaction was that this was something I have wanted to for ages and that I should give it a try.
Rather nevously I entered the building to be greated by one of the nurses who asked me if I had given blood before, I told her I hadnt so she gave me 2 leaflets to read and to read them whilst I joined the queue. The first leaflet described the blood collection process and what was entailed, the second leaflet outlined information about exposure to HIV and about travel.
I waited in the queue for about 5 minutes and then was called to the front desk where the Nurse took my details and inputted them into a laptop computer, she then printed out a form with my details on and asked me to take a seat to be medically assessed. I didnt have to wait long and was asked a quite indepth questionaire about my health, travel and lifestyle, thankfully I passed.
The next part of the process involved having a small sample of blood taken from my thumb to make sure that my Iron level was high enough, which I passed with flying colours, I was then escorted to a bed and was greated by a nurse who explained the process to me as it was my first time. I cannot remember how long I was on the bed for but it seemed a long time, perhaps it was my nerves.
Eventually, another nurse came along and jabbed me, I was up and running!, I have to say that it didn't hurt that much, they are experts at finding veins a lot better than when I have had blood sample taken at the Doctors.
After I had given my donation I waited on the bed for ten minutes with my arm bandaged up and was then escorted to the refreshments area where I thought I would get a nice cup of tea but was told that I had to have orange juice because it was my first time: oh well orange juice it was then and a custard cream too.
Overall I did enjoy my first time giving blood, and I should make the effort again, the staff are wonderful and they do try their best to make you feel at ease, so please give it a go , they're not vampires!
Well, recently I gave blood for the first time, having intended to do so ever since I became old enough. The only thing that had really held me up was that there were no open sessions near me whenever I was available. Everything was always either fully booked or clashed with a time when I was working or in a lecture.
However, finally, the national blood service ran a session at my university and as they were open during the gap between my lectures, I decided now that was the time I was finally going to do my bit.
Even this session full of students was very busy! Those who had booked appointments had to wait after their appointment times and those who hadn't (including me) were waiting in some cases in excess of 2 hours. I was reassured however, this was not a typical case. They had by no means expected the sheer volume of people to turn up that actually did - guess that goes to show us students aren't all bad! Fortunately the staff were very open and clear to us about this in the first place, so when you arrived you know how long you may be there and it was your choice whether to wait or not, which was much appreciated.
I was given a form to fill in and a leaflet to read going through any reasons why you might not be able to donate and the form was a simple tick box run of questions that was easy enough to fill in. There was also a very helpful nurse present in the waiting area there to clarify anything if you weren't sure about what exactly was being asked.
Once the long wait was over, there was a quick assessment by another nurse, who went over the form with me to clarify any issues raised by the form, then a finger prick test to check that giving blood was not likely to make me ill. Once that was done, it was over to the donation table!
The process was very simple, admittedly it took the nurse a while to find a vein but that's not from their inexperience - more because it's always been a problem with me! That is what I'd say was the most uncomfortable part for me, as the band on my arm to help my vein come up led to me getting pins and needles and cramp after a while, but once that was done; the slight scratch of the needle was nothing!
Once you're attached they take a small amount of the blood to run blood tests with to ensure your donation is safe to give to those who may need to receive it and then you fill up the pint (470ml) bag. For me this didn't take very long at all, maybe 5 minutes I would guess! My only complaint would be that once this was done, it was quite a while before any nurse came and detached me from all the equipment which left me feeling rather uncomfortable. I understand they were very busy, but it would seem logical to me to deal with the person who's finished rather than start someone new when both occur at the same time!
After that - a sit down with drinks and biscuits and then it's done! It's a simple enough procedure and I would recommend anyone who can donate to do so. You never know who may need a blood transfusion at some point, if someone you knew needed one, you'd sure hope there was someone who'd donated the blood for them, so why not be the one who does so? It was a good experience and one I intend to repeat (minus the long wait hopefully!) so what more is there to say other than - give blood!
To start with I should say that everyone who can should give blood. It is easy to do and helps to save lives.
Getting started - the best thing to do would be to go on www.blood.co.uk to register and book an appointment near where you live/work. On your first blood donation you are given a lot more detailed information to ensure you are a suitable donor and explaining the process. Once you have donated a few times, the information pack is much smaller.
Process - the way it works is you first fill a form in (which they send you in advance) with questions about where you have travelled and other questions designed to see if you can give blood. At the session, you see a nurse first who will go through the form with you and then pricks your finger (doesn't hurt) to test a drop of your blood in some liquid (I think this is testing for iron). If the blood drop sinks in the liquid you are ok to give blood.
The next stage involves lying on a bed with your sleeve up and the nurse inserts the needle which is no more painful than a normal blood test. The tube is attached to a bag which holds the blood. You don't actually see the blood enter the bag as it is strategically placed out of the way. You give a pint of blood in total. Once you finish, you rest on the bed for a few minutes and then move to a different room where tea/coffee and cold drinks are provided and a biscuit. From there you are on your way. The nurses are very helpful and hygiene is at the forefront with various wipes and gels used throughout. The whole process is really well organised and you do feel valued as a donor.
I think that more people should give blood because it only hurts for a split second and giving that pint could help to save someones life.
Giving blood wasn't easy for me. I'd promised myself for a few years that I'd 'find the time' and that I'd 'pop in on the way home', but the reality was that I was terrified. Time after time I'd stroll casually past the donation centre, 'forgetting' my promise to myself. Years on, I regret not donating as soon as I had the chance. I'm 22 now, and the proud giver of three blood donations. My first was a relatively forced one during my time as a university student - a friend had to send a lot of encouragement my way, and of course the chance to have a huge meal at the SU bar helped, but that didn't stop the shaking by the time I arrived to donate. Nervous, I made a point of asking my friend about the pain. Her response? "It won't hurt unless they can't find a vein".
A quick iron test later, and I was lying on the bed. my left arm being poked and prodded, tapped and shuffled, before..."We can't find a vein". I was moved to a different bed, and the poking and prodding and tapping continued on my right arm. "We've just about found one. Let's give it a go". Seconds later, I was donating. No pain, no discomfort, no effects at all. By the time my donation was given, I could've happily taken a few bounces to the door and been out of the centre, no questions asked - it was that easy.
Donation two came after my student years, a year on. This one wasn't quite as successful, but not due to the donation itself - that went fine. My problem was that I wanted to go shopping for flower seeds after my donation. Shopping, coupled with a walk home, left me exhausted. I'd not left my body time to recover, and ended up a pale white, with a fever, as I staggered through the door at home. A ten minute rest fixed me up fine.
Donation three occurred not so long ago. This time, my veins were more elusive than ever. I'd been eating and drinking constantly throughout the day, and I had no doubt that I was fully prepared for my donation, but finding my vein turned out to be a simple case of guesswork. Whether it was my slight memory of the after-effects of my last donation, or the guesswork involved in inserting the needle, I don't know, but sitting up after the donation led to me almost fainting. Cue a lot of rushing around, and me being made to lie still on a bed for half an hour whilst being forced to eat and drink even more (in actual fact, I felt faint for a total of one minute, maximum). I think that the 'hit and miss' vein-finding approach was the issue. For the first time, after donation three, I was left with a thick red, black and dark yellow bruise covering a large amount of my inner arm for almost two weeks - but it was a bruise I could be proud of, of course.
Three donations in, though, I wouldn't change my donating habits for the world, and provided I have no more problems I'll continue to donate as often as I can for the rest of my life. For, at most, minor discomfort on my part, lives are being saved. Our blood really can be an incredible gift, and I'd faint a thousand times over to save one person if that was what it took. Especially in the safe and re-assuring hands of the National Blood Service staff.
OK I'll hold my hands up, I don't actively enjoy the process of giving blood, but maybe it would be more worrying if I did... I first gave blood when I was 18 and have donated many times since then. The main thing which ruins my track record is travelling to some dodgy destinations, and the waiting period which follows before you can donate again.
Anyway, giving blood is a relatively quick and painless procedure. If you are pushed for time then it is definitely worth booking an appointment online. If it is your first donation then allow yourself some time as there is half a ton of paperwork to complete. Anyway, as a regular donor, once you have completed a checklist and drunk lots of water, you'll be taken off for "further questioning" and an iron test. If this is all ok then it's back to the waiting area. If you want local anaesthetic then you should have requested it during your questioning...
The procedure of actually giving blood is pretty straightforward, you get to lie down, chat to the nurses, squeeze your hand into a ball many many times and wait for your near-pint sized bag fill up. After a short rest, you can go and eat your weight in biscuits - calories without the guilt! The whole process takes less than an hour and you have to then wait at least 12 weeks before you give again.
You can also donate platelets instead of whole blood - this procedure involves taking blood, separating the platelets, then returning the blood to your arm minus some platelets (and white blood cells). This takes about 90 mins in total and you can donate as often as once every fortnight, as you aren't losing so much blood.
All in all I enjoy giving blood, and as a result am also on the bone marrow register
Giving Blood - everyone has seen the adverts, everyone has seen the extra plugs when a specific blood Group is low in stock, how many people give.
My first time I gave, I was a little reluctant. I had no idea what to expect. But I got a very friendly welcome and off I went.
First of all, any people thinking of giving blood, if you want to, I would seriously suggest booking an appointment (unless you have loads of time on your hands) as the drop in service does exist but of course people with appointments have priority so you can be waiting potentially hours for an appointment.
You can call up the National Blood Line or book the appointment online - whichever is easier. I've been told so many times, if I am running late for an appointment, it's still better to have it rather than drop in so definitely advise that!
You are given lots of information to read on what happens to the blood, privacy if anything emerges when the blood is screened and they find something e.g. hepatitis and also how it can be used. It makes you realise it's a pretty good thing you are doing.
You go through a questionnaire - tick box, yes or no, of about 50 questions which looks at sexual history, medication, any risky activities you may have been involved in and also travel history.
A nurse then calls you up, goes through this with you - if you answered any questions that need further clarification, you speak to a Dr who is at the centre or unit and they require further details...
(I.e. one question there is have you ever lived outside the UK. Being a person that has lived in several places, I always get asked that and always have to have a doctor countersign and check I'm still Ok to give blood. I must admit, they are thorough with this, especially as I have travelled to malaria zones frequently so I always get tested for tropical diseases too once they take the blood. If I'm all clear, I don't hear from them, if something is wrong, I get a letter. Safe guards them as well as me)..
A nurse then does an anaemia test, a drop of blood in a blue solution, which I always forget what it's called! But if you're good to give blood, your blood drop will sink, if it doesn't, you are more than likely to be anaemic and you can't give blood.
Once that's done, you wait to get on the counter! You are asked to lie down, confirm your name and DOB and then are prepped to give blood. The needle is inserted - I'm not squeamish about needles, but I don't exactly enjoy being prodded wither, but for those with needle phobias out there, it really isn't as bad as it sounds - they are gentle. I've give over 20 times and not had a bad experience yet!
It literally takes 10-15 minutes for the bag to fill, in the mean time you squeeze like a stress ball or asked to make that movement with your hand to get a good flow into the bag.
Once you're done, you slowly get up, book another appointment and then sit down for a good cuppa or glass of squash and some bikkies or crisps - I'm doing weight watchers so was most impressed to find Special K bars last time I went!!
The waiting is the longest part of the process but take a good book and the actual giving blood, takes all of 15 minutes. Doesn't harm you. You are advised to take it easy for the rest of the day and don't do strenuous activities. As I'm far from a newbie, I gave in the morning early and by 6pm the same day, was my belly dance class. I assumed I would be fine but I did get really light headed and had to sit down!!
So be warned, don't be silly like me and heed their advice!!
--- What? ---
The National Blood Service is part of the NHS and collects, stores and delivers blood from donors to unwell patients to save lives. The NBS travels the length and breadth of the country to find new donors and collect more from existing donors.
--- Why? ---
For the sake of around 20 minutes (not counting queuing etc) you can potentially save someones life by donating 1 pint of blood to the NBS.
--- How? ---
You can either ring them, blood.co.uk has details on this, or turn up to one of the local donation days or have a word with your GP. When there you have a sample taken from your thumb to check your iron levels are ok and you fill in a questionnaire to make sure you're ok to give blood. You then lie on a bed and have a needle put into your arm (doesn't hurt i swear!) and lie there for 10 minutes whilst a bag fills, then one pint later you have the needle removed and go and sit down with a coffee and free snacks, then you're done.
As an added incentive you get a colored card which has your blood type on it, after set amounts of donations you get a new colored card and even badges and other rewards as a thank you.
--- When? ---
You can blood up to 4 times a year (every 3 months).
--- Summary ---
For the sake of 20 minutes you could save a life, if this isn't reason enough the free snacks there are great!
Do something amazing, give blood.
This review is only about what to expect when making a donation, and not about what happens to the blood etc.
Firstly, can you donate?
You cannot ever give blood if;
You have HIV/AIDS, heb B or hep C,
Are a man who has had sex with a man,
You have ever been a prostitute or injected drugs,
Have had a blood transfusion since 1980.
You can't give blood if you are pregnant, have had a baby within the previous 9 months, if you weight less than 8 stone, or have had some medical conditions or are taking some medications.
When you arrive to give blood, you will be asked to read a small folder containing relevant information, and to fill in a short questionnaire. Assuming the centre is not very busy, this should take no longer than 10 minutes.
Next you will be taken to a booth where you will be asked to confirm your name and DOB, if you have stated that you have been abroad in the last 12 months on your questionnaire, you will be asked where you visited, you will also be asked to name medications you have taken recently. The nurse will take a small drop of blood from the tip of your index finger and drop it in a solution to test it. This feels like a pin prick. Assuming your blood sinks to the bottom of the solution, you are now ready to give blood.
Next you will be taken to a bed, you will have a strap put around the top of your arm, this does not hurt. You will be asken to make a fist while the nurse looks for a vein. When the nurse finds a vein, the area will be cleaned and the needle will be inserted. If you are squeemish, it is best to look away, although this does not hurt. All you have to do now is lie back and relax.
After your donation, you will be encouraged to sit down, have a drink and a biscuit.
Occasionally you may not be able to donate, or will have to stop the donation, the worst that has happened to me is a small bruise at the donation site, and I fainted once.
You will be told activities you cannot participate in for a few hours after your donation, these include things like deep sea diving.
I wanted to write a review on the blood service as it is something that is very close to my heart and I hope that it is something that will encourage others to do it more often. I've only given blood 3 times but I plan to do it many many more times because for me it is my way of giving something back. You see, over the years my dad has been given an awful lot of blood and even though I'm scared to do it, I'm doing my bit to replenish the stocks.
I'm very lucky as my company host regular sessions so I don't even need to worry about finding them and every session I have been too (even when for whatever reason I was unable to give blood) they have always been so gentle and kind and really praise you for doing this!
There are particular times of year when the blood service is trying to build up their stocks, one of which is Christmas time as there are often more accidents and need for it then.
For more information or to sign up for an appointment please call: 0845 7 711 711
People over the age of 17 and upto the age of 59 are eligible to give blood depending on some health factors, and also some lifestyle factors, but the website is great and will help you understand whether you can or can't give blood. I hope this has been of some use, and hopefully someone else will start thinking about the need to do this really important and easy thing!
FYI: This is not a review of how the blood service was set up, what it's purpose is, or what happens to the blood after donation. This is a review of what can happen to your body before, during and after giving blood.
I have been giving blood for about 6 years now and have recently given my 16th pint. For a regular donor such as myself, the process is basically the same as it would be for a new donor. You have to start by filling in a health questionnaire. This asks simple questions about your general health and where you have been or what have you been doing since you last donated. This is to protect you as much as the potential recipient of your blood, so it is important to be honest.
You then go for the finger prick test (I'm sure it has some official name, but I don't know it!). The nurse goes over your form and then draws a tiny bit of blood from your finger tip to test your iron levels.
Assuming iron levels are ok, you are then fit to donate. A needle is put in your (usually left) arm. You are encouraged to keep wiggling your fingers to keep the blood flow going and then stay there until you've filled the bag! It's just under a pint. Then you can go away for free drinks and biccies!
I have always felt absolutely fine after donation except for on two occasions. The first time was one of my very first donations on a hot summers day. I left the building too fast and very nearly fainted on my walk home.
The second time I felt unwell was actually the last time I donated! But it didn't happen until the morning after! I was making my breakfast and suddenly felt very light headed and nauseous. I had to go and sit down and was having cold sweats. Yet 10 minutes later I felt absolutely fine and happily ate my breakfast. I also bruised badly on that occasion, but don't know if the two are linked.
In both cases, my negative effects were very minor and are definitely outweighed by the thought that I am doing a Good Thing.
1: Drink LOTS before you go. During donation you are losing a lot of fluid very quickly. At the same rate as someone who has had a major trauma (spurting arteries and all that). It is very important that you hydrate well before hand, and drink plenty afterwards to help replace the fluids you've lost.
2: Take advantage of the free drinks and biscuits. Sometimes it can take a while for your body to adjust to the sudden blood loss and it is better for you to have a funny turn with nurses all around you than when you are walking home or at work, or worse still, in your car.
3: If possible, arrange for someone to pick you up afterwards. After all, you've just had a major blood loss. YOU know it's nothing to worry about, but your body doesn't necessarily know that... Bodies can do strange things, and behind the wheel perhaps isn't the best place to be if it all goes pear-shaped.
4: REST. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help yourself after donation is to REST. Get someone else to cook the dinner, bath the kids, walk the dog. You just sit and bask in the glow of having just served humanity.
Remember, in 99% of cases, if people follow the above common sense advice, blood donation will cause you no negative effects. Just remember to look after yourself. :)
I am a life time whole red blood donor, with an accredied 136 units and Wedgewood Plate presented at the Connaught Rooms in London.
I started blood donation mainly in response to the tragic loss of two young male relatives from Leukaemia-one being trained as a nurse and football club captain, losing his life at 22.The other relative a talented photographer/journalist whom died of Leukaemia, when only 30 years old.
It is simple, non time consuming and painless to donate blood and the knowledge of helping to save a child`s life or accident victim or critical operation patient, should be the experince of alot more people,then just 5/10% of our adult population.
I would also encourage ethnic dors to come forward and members of rare as well as common blood groups to enrol as blood donors.
There is a World Blood Donor Day held each year and many people celebrate the gift of giving blood freely without inhibition.
The Patron Saint of Blood Donors is Saint Valaria and long may she smile on her disciples.