I had already signed up to the organ donation scheme so that in the event of my death someone’s life might be saved by getting a transplant.
I’d talked about becoming a blood donor but never actually got around to it. My fear of the unknown guaranteed that whenever the NHS blood donor vans were in town I always had a legitimate excuse for being elsewhere.
But I gave myself a good talking to and made my first appointment for the end of 2011. It was sandwiched between a day’s work and an evening engagement, so that I had no time to think or worry about giving blood.
I was inevitably late and the last to arrive but the whole experience was great. All the staff were amazing – friendly and caring and clearly dedicated to doing an excellent job.
On arrival I did a double-take, there in our local Council-owned ballroom was a scene from the blitz. Alas my vivid imagination and the expectation of my own private booth!
Where partygoers usually tripped the light fantastic, were ranked blue beds, a donor lying on each and hooked up with their very own tubes and blood bags.
They were people of all ages and I was amazed to see so many teenagers. So much for the supposed lack of conscience of today’s young people.
Once I had registered, a tiny drop of blood was taken from my fingertip. This was to determine my haemoglobin level and ensure that giving blood would not make me anaemic. As all was well, I could deliver the red stuff.
Generally you will donate about 470ml of blood and this is quickly replaced by your body. This amount works out at no more than 13 per cent of your blood volume and your body soon replaces all the cells and fluids that have been lost.
Whilst the blood was being taken I had Elvis Presley playing on the radio in one ear and was given numerous movement exercises to complete, making the session fly by – these involved leg crossing and uncrossing and clenching of the fist and buttocks.
About 10 minutes later the job was done. A glass of orange or a cup of tea and a snack were on offer and then I was on my way.
The whole process was hygienic, quick, simple and painless. I felt great afterwards that I had so simply done something so worthwhile. I immediately booked my next appointment for 16 weeks later.
The remarkable medical story of donating blood stretches back over 300 years. On 28th November 1666 the famous diarist Samuel Pepys recorded that the first ever transfusion recipient was “ in perfect good health’
That historical patient was a spaniel, and his donor a ‘little mastiff’, according to the minutes of the Royal Society. The spaniel survived and scientists were encouraged to move on to human subjects.
If you’re generally healthy and aged between 17 and 65, do something amazing.... Give blood
For more information go to http://www.blood.co.uk