Giving blood is so simple! It also helps you to discover where you’re from.
Not literally, but historically! I give blood and I am a B negative which is so rare that only two percent of the population have it, and today the nurse who was taking my blood was very excited because she has the same blood group and noticed that I was the second person she’d come across with the same blood group and same
very slightly odd toes as her.
She told me that from the research she had done already, our blood group is likely to die out in the not too distant future and that no-one is quite sure how it came about.
She also said that she found an article about possible links to skeletons found that are sort of human but with extra long limbs. Sounds very bizarre to me……and also very intriguing! So I am going on a mission to find out more. We all know how accurate the internet is, (hah!), so I will take it all with a pinch of salt but I’d love to know if you have anything that makes you unusual or know something about the origins of your blood group or mine, the stranger the better!! 😀
I also thought I’d do a quick guide to giving blood and some tips as these things can be very nerve-racking the first time you and it is such a worthwhile cause so if I can allay anyone’s fears about going, I’ll be very happy.
- First off, make an appointment. They get too busy to take walk ins often and if you have an appointment they can send you out the forms to fill in at home. In peace, unless you have children obviously!
- They can also check that you are eligible to donate to save you a wasted journey. Things like tattoos and piercings don’t mean you can’t donate but there are time frames you need to adhere to and you need to mention it so they can run a few extra tests.
- When you arrive, there is a reception area with a computer and you will be ‘checked in’ and given a guide to read containing all the important information you need. You will be given this every time to refresh your memory as there is usually 3 or more months between donations. Our donation centre is a church hall so don’t worry that you’ll have to go to hospital or have to pay for expensive parking.
- You will be directed to a waiting area with some magazines. I usually bring my own or a book. It can be a long wait as things like someone calling in sick or a donor feeling a little unwell after can delay the process a little. Usually it isn’t too long a wait and they will keep you well informed if there are any delays. There is a nice camaraderie I’ve found, and so you will probably find someone to chat to to pass the time.
- Your name will be called and you will go into a little screened off cubicle to confirm your details and to go through the questionnaire you answered in more detail if you answered yes to any of the questions, things like medication changes, trips abroad etc, and the answers will be expanded on and signed off. Then there is a test to check your iron levels. A tiny pin prick will be made using what looks a bit like a dog training clicker and a couple of drops squeezed out into the tiniest pipette. This will be squirted into a test tube of green or blue liquid and timed to make sure it sinks in the requisite time. If not, your iron levels are considered too low to spare any blood and you won’t be able to donate in that session and directed to see your gp.
- All being well with your iron, you are then sent to a second waiting area and invited to help yourself to a drink of water or squash & have a seat.
- When they have a chair free, you will be asked if you prefer left or right arm and they will adjust it accordingly. You’ll sit in the chair and they will make you comfortable.
- There is a machine to whichever side they are taking from the makes a bit of noise when it is going as it keeps the bag of blood moving continuously and beeps when you’re done, nothing to panic about if it is being loud! 🙂
- The nurse will thoroughly clean your arm and then insert a needle. Not the most pleasant but it really is just a scratch. Once in, you genuinely won’t feel it and the blood will start flowing down the small tube attached to the needle that will get taped to your wrist. You will also be reclined almost flat.
- There are two bags attached to the tube, a very small one that samples will be taken from, how many samples depends on whether you have been abroad/ had a recent tattoo etc, and the larger one on the moving platform.
- Then you are left while the bag fills up. It is recommended to clench and un-clench your fist to help the flow and you are also given a sheet with some exercise suggestions. You are generally advised against reading if it is your first time but if you’ve been a few times, you can read now…..a book is far easier to hold than a magazine one handed as I have discovered from personal awkward experience!
- Once the bag is full, (I promise it’s not that big, they aren’t leaving with a brimming carrier bag!), the machine will alert them by lots of beeping, there is nothing to worry about if they are tending to someone else at that minute as nothing bad can happen if you are waiting a little while, (not that that happens often!), then the needle will be removed and you are given a gauze to press down on the seriously tiny hole and they sort all the tubes and your donation out.
- You will be sat upright and given a few minutes to check how you are doing. It is very rare for people to faint but you can feel a little light headed if you’ve not eaten or drank enough in the day. I’d say from sitting in the chair to being sent for a biccie is around 20-30 mins.
- Once satisfied you are ok and when you’ve had your gauze swapped for a plaster, you will be sent over to the refreshment table and offered a cold or hot drink and there are a large selection of biscuits. These are obviously calorie free as you have just given away a lot of calories! 😉
- Another appointment will be offered for the next session and when you are fully recovered, (finished your biscuit!), you can go home. Feeling pretty awesome for potentially saving someone’s life and having a license to eat cake when you get home. (Still calorie free obvs!)
It may be different in other areas of course, and for different people but that is my experience as an NHS donor in the UK. I PROMISE you that it isn’t scary, it doesn’t hurt much and they honestly don’t take very much, and the fluffy feel goods last aaaagggges. Oh, and all the staff are lovely and friendly and make it a fun cheerful atmosphere, even if they have been there all day and you are the last donor as I was tonight.