Only 4% of people regularly give blood. Those 4% keep the rest of us alive.
I’ve seen first hand how donated blood can save lives. I’ve stood squeezing in bag after bag of blood to someone who otherwise would have haemorrhaged to death in front of me. I’ve given countless transfusions to cancer patients, allowing them to continue with their life-saving chemotherapy and radiotherapy. My Dad would have died from massive internal bleeding when I was 5 years old if it hadn’t been for numerous blood transfusions.
I’ve never given blood. I’ve always wanted to but when I tried to donate, aged 17, they told me I didn’t weigh enough- you have to weigh at least 50kg (7st 12lbs). I’ve subsequently weighed around 7 1/2 stone my whole adult life, apart from when I was pregnant and I put on over 3 stone- obviously I couldn’t donate then, though.
Then on Thursday this week I saw something on Twitter about blood donation and thought, what the hell, I might as well check if I weigh enough. And I did! 52.8kg! Perfect for giving blood (although slightly upsetting that I weigh half a stone more than I thought I did…). So I checked on blood.co.uk when the next session near me was, found there was a donation session in my town the following day, and booked an appointment. I couldn’t believe my luck!
I turned up at the civic centre, filled in some forms and had a short health assessment with a nurse. The she took a small drop of blood from my finger to check my iron levels, which were normal.
I was shown to a comfy reclining chair and another nurse started to look for a vein. I knew my veins could sometimes be a bit tricky to find, and she confirmed that I have ‘petite’ veins. She got the needle in but said the blood was coming out too slowly because the vein was so small. The machine kept alarming and the whole procedure had to be abandoned after just 30mls of blood (you need to give 470mls for a donation). I was so disappointed, I felt like crying.
I was sent over to the drinks and biscuits table, but felt like a fraud, so only had a cup of tea and didn’t help myself to a biscuit. Women can only donate once every 4 months, even if it’s unsuccessful, so I have to wait until February to try again, but I’ve booked that appointment. Next time I’ll make sure I drink 3 pints of water during the day before the donation and wrap myself up warm beforehand, to give my veins the best possible chance of performing properly.
I came home and registered on the Anthony Nolan website. They’re going to send me a ‘spit kit’ so that I can register as a bone marrow donor.
I just want to give away bits of my body, damn it!