“Sorry, you’re not able to give blood.” It wasn’t something that I was expecting to hear when I finally managed to pluck up the courage to give blood. But I did. And apparently I’m not alone.
Registering as a Donor.
The easy part. I’d registered to give to blood 2.5 years ago. I didn’t realise it was quite that long ago until I actually worked it out. It was at the same time that my Grandad was going to have a blood transfusion that I had signed up. The thought that someone had donated blood that might have helped my Grandad when he was so poorly really made me think. It was because of this I wanted to sign up, so that I could help someone else. Good deed for a good deed.
For one reason or another I didn’t get to the blood donation station for 2.5 years. I would always be too busy to go to make an appointment. When I did try to get an appointment the ones I could go to were taken. The truth was I dislike needles and so was putting it off. That was until they called me up. Having someone on the phone to me was really effective and we got the appointment booked in. I was going to give blood.
Preparing to Give Blood
I received lots of emails and texts reminding me the booked appointment. What to do if I couldn’t make it. But more importantly how to prepare for giving blood. This was really good information, especially as it was the first time I had given blood. Some were common things but something I hadn’t thought about was driving afterwards. I was going to drive myself but it is recommended you don’t in case you feel light-headed. Makes complete sense now that it had been pointed out to me but at the time, I hadn’t thought about it.
I was booked in to give blood on quite possibly the hottest day of the year. With this in mind I made sure I had drunk loads of water and eaten a good dinner before I went. I wanted to be in the best shape I could be.
Arriving and Feeling Nervous
I arrived and was asked to take a seat whilst I read the booklet which went over how they actually take blood. What can happen and how they look after you. I wish I could say it helped with my nerves, it didn’t, I just don’t like needles. They could tell I was nervous I’m sure and they were so kind. That helped to settle my nerves a little.
I didn’t realise quite how many people were there taking the blood. That in itself was reassuring. I also didn’t realise that a timer is set for you to give blood and you have a certain amount of time to have donated by. I don’t really know what I was expecting really.
The staff were very attentive to donors. I could see them helping donors over to a table to get drinks and biscuits after they had given blood. They were closely monitoring everyone and when one lady felt odd she was laid down in front of a fan with her feet in the air to help. I can honestly say that I could tell that I would be in the best hands. By the time I had seen all of this happening I was more relaxed than I had been. I just needed to get over the needle.
Trying to Give Blood
Once I had my pin prick test carried out to make sure I was anaemic I was taken over to the donation chair. The lady said “first time?” to me and I nodded. She said “let’s go in front of the fan then”. With it being as hot as it was I was thankful. She talked me through each thing that she was doing and then asked me how the doctors get on taking blood. This has always been hit and miss as I’m sure my veins decide to hide. She explained how they needed a better vein than what the doctors needed and started looking.
Both arms were checked. She said she needed to speak to someone. When she came back she said she was really sorry but I was not able to give blood. She explained that they needed a good vein through the middle but my veins split and so she couldn’t take my blood. I was told it was unlikely that I would ever be able to give blood, I could try again in a couple of years but it would probably be the same. I was surprised with how sad that made me feel.
As I left the sister thanked me for coming to try to said that was all they wanted people to try. They offered me drink and biscuits still, which was kind. I wasn’t the only person on that session who couldn’t give blood. Of the maybe 10 people who were there over the 40 minutes I was there, 2 or 3 others that were not able to give blood. Almost 30%. I was surprised with how high that figure was.
Important to Try.
It was a real eye opener to me. I just assumed that most people could give blood. Obviously I knew that there were some reasons people were not able to give blood but ‘wonky veins’ (my terminology) wasn’t a reason I thought existed. People that wanted to give blood were being turned away for one reason or another.
Now I can see why they are always appealing for people to go and TRY to give blood. It is so important that people TRY. I am a firm believer that if you would take you should give – or at least TRY.
Do you give blood? What advice would you give people thinking about going? I would love to know…