Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Blood donation – why it’s not as bad as you think

In the UK there is a shortage of vital blood donation, especially negative blood types, which could mean the difference between life and death for those in need of a transfusion. So, I decided to donate blood for the very first time, and it’s honestly not as bad as you think.

I have wanted to donate blood for a long time, but like most people life gets in the way and I forgot all about it until an online advert reminded me.  Donating blood is effortless, all you need to do is register online to become a blood donor and book your appointment. Once you have registered, a person from the NHS blood donation will call, email and text you leading up to your appointment to make sure that you are not only eligible to donate but also offer advice to make sure your donation is as safe and comfortable as possible for you.

Aside from a small sharp pain when the needle is placed into your arm, the process is effortless

So what happens when you donate? Quite simply, you are lead to a room where chairs are set up in rows, despite the faint resemblance to either a dentist’s office or a milk parlour, the place is well lit and very comfortable, definitely not a vampire’s lair. A nurse will guide you through the entire process which involves a brief blood check to make sure your iron levels are adequate and a questionnaire to check your health and blood suitability. And then you’re ready to go!

Of course, for most people the idea of losing blood is horrifying and conjures up an image of vampires and horror films – blood donation couldn’t be further from that! Aside from a small sharp pain when the needle is placed into your arm, the process is effortless, and you cannot feel the blood leaving your body.

why not use that 10 minutes to do something fantastic and potentially life-saving

Every day in England 6,000 people need a blood transfusion, without your donation, these people may lose their life for a process that takes seven minutes.  Think of all the daily activities you do that take seven to 10 minutes. Checking social media or making a cup of tea, why not use that 10 minutes to do something fantastic and potentially life-saving? What’s more, you don’t have to travel very far to find a donation location – there are two that regularly occur in Leamington Spa.

During blood donation, the nurses advise you to do some muscle tensing to stop any cramps and ensure a smooth donation process, for myself personally I not only didn’t feel any discomfort but after the donation itself I felt excellent and healthy. As someone who suffers quite frequently with lightheadedness, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to continue my daily activities with no adverse effects, the most uncomfortable part is the sticky arm plaster you’re given afterwards!

The NHS requires 200,000 new donors to keep up with demand and to save as many people as possible who need a blood transfusion

Of course, blood donation isn’t suitable for everyone, and there is an entire health list on the blood donation website you must read through to check your eligibility. But, if your only aversion to donation is fear at the thought of giving blood, you needn’t panic because it sounds far more frightening than it is. Additionally, because you are donating blood, the nurses will check your iron levels for you and as someone who leads a plant-based life style,I was very reassured that my iron levels are perfect. As a bonus, free tea, juice and biscuits are provided after donation to sweeten the deal. If that doesn’t persuade you, blood donation allegedly ‘burns off’ up to 600 calories so you can give yourself a treat afterwards.

When you donate blood, you are doing something amazing. An entire process that takes less than 40 minutes from start to finish, with the actual donation only requiring 10 minutes maximum, all of which to benefit somebody whose life depends on receiving your blood. The NHS requires 200,000 new donors to keep up with demand and to save as many people as possible who need a blood transfusion. Will you do something selfless and brilliant and become one of them?

To register to donate and for more information visit Blood.co.uk. For information about what your donated blood might be used for, visit Your Extraordinary Blood.

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