This is a blog post I never thought I’d write. It’s something I never thought I’d do in my life. Despite having piercings and a tattoos, I cannot stand needles.
Over the last few years, I’ve really thought about becoming an organ donor. I’ve read stories about how amazing organ donors are for saving other people, and it’s really played on my mind. I have a mix of opinions on this in my family, some are more “traditional” and would prefer to be left alone after they’ve died, which is entirely their decision. Then on the other hand I have family members who are all for being organ donors. Having this mix of opinions in my family has really confused me, and to this day I still haven’t signed up as an organ donor because I just don’t know. So I thought I would do my bit to help other people and start small, so I became a blood donor.
I’d never really thought about becoming a blood donor until I witnessed first hand how crucial blood transfusions can be. It’s a difficult topic to talk about but it really gave me the kick up the butt that I needed and back in April, I signed up and booked my first appointment.
I woke up on the morning of April 18th feeling sick to my stomach. I felt so incredibly nervous but knew I was doing such a good thing. I had some breakfast, plenty to drink and made my way down to my local donor centre, which is in my town. When I arrived at the centre, I rung my mum because my legs just wouldn’t move to take me inside. The sick feeling just took over. With a quick pep talk from mum, I went in.
There was a lot of forms to fill in when I arrived, since it was my first time. It’s a lot of health questions with a lot of it talking about your background, current health and sexual relations. It’s safe to say I passed with flying colours and was given a juice and packet of biscuits to eat before my iron level test (just in case you’re lying about eating that morning.)
I was taken through to a private consultation room for the nurse to look over my forms again, check everything was ok and to check the iron levels in my blood. She pricked my finger with a needle and let a drop of blood fall into this blue/green solution. If it sunk, my levels are fine to donate blood…if it floated or took a long time to submerge then I’m not fit to give blood. This often happens if people are anaemic or have low iron levels. Mine sunk like a lead balloon so I was given the all clear to give blood.
I was escorted over to an empty chair where a nurse had a quick chat with me to calm my nerves. By this point I’m sure my heart was doing 5000 beats a minute and I think she could sense that I needed a friend. She reassured me that I was doing a wonderful thing and that everything would go smoothly.
I was handed a safety sheet to read for what to do during the process of giving blood. Simple things like regularly breathing, squeezing the stress ball I was given throughout the procedure to keep my muscles and blood moving.
Unfortunately she did had to clean my arm with antiseptic wipes to ensure my arm was sterilised, which removed a lovely big patch of my fake tan. Then it was time to take blood.
The needle going in was a little painful, but not anywhere near as bad as I thought. Once it was in it was uncomfortable at all but I didn’t like the sight of it in my arm so my nurse put a padded bandage over the top so I couldn’t see which was thoughtful of her. I chatted to my nurse who was asking me all sorts of questions to distract me and before I knew it, my pint of blood was taken and done.
After the removal of the needle and applying a bit of pressure to my arm, I was moved over to the post-blood-donation section of the room where they supply you with drinks, crisps, biscuits, anything you might need to feel better. They make sure you drink at least a cup of water and eat an individual packet of biscuits before you leave to make sure your levels are stable.
Looking back on my experience, I’ve since booked my next appointment to give blood and as weird as it sounds, I’m looking forward to it. I felt so proud after I gave blood and the fact that I’ve potentially saved someone’s life makes me feel good. If you meet the requirements to give blood, please do. You can find all the details and information linked here.
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