Are you one of the 4%?

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.

42715403_mlI’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!

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Blood transfusion

39 thoughts on “Are you one of the 4%?

    • Helen Post author

      It would be so amazing to be able to donate bone marrow and potentially save someone’s life- when the doctors start looking for a bone marrow donor, it really is their only hope. I’m so pleased my post prompted you to try and give blood again 🙂 x

      Reply
    • Helen Post author

      Ooh, that’s really good that you’ve managed to donate 6 times despite having the same problem as me. Gives me hope for my next attempt!

      Reply
  1. Random Musings

    My grandmother recently needed two pints of blood and I am eternally grateful to whoever donated that blood and made it possible! I am unable to give blood at the minute due to being on the contraceptive pill, but once I stop taking it, I will most definitely be making an effort to give some blood 🙂
    Debbie
    Random Musings recently posted…Discrimination At Work: A Rant!My Profile

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    • Helen Post author

      Hope your Grandma’s on the mend now :-). I didn’t realise you couldn’t donate if you were on the pill, I’ve learnt something new today. Xx

      Reply
  2. Zoe Alicia

    Yikes, I can’t believe it’s only 4%! I have given blood before (and I LOVED it because I’m a little bit obsessed with needles), but the second time I went I was told not to go back for a couple of years because my iron levels were so low. I’m still totally disappointed about that. So anyone who can give blood, please, please do! x
    Zoe Alicia recently posted…Perfection is a skill, DarlingsMy Profile

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  3. Janette Davey

    I have never given blood, for the same reason that you said at the start – I don’t weigh enough. I only get above the weight when I am pregnant and then can’t donate. However, my son has donated and I went with him to support him on the first time that he did it. They were lovely with him and he felt good being able to help. He would do it again and I would too if I put on weight.
    Janette Davey recently posted…Failing and succeeding as a work-at-home mumMy Profile

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    • Helen Post author

      Although I was a bit gutted how much weight I’ve put on, it was amazing to be able to attempt giving blood for the first time. It’s great that your son donated blood, I can’t imagine that many young people would think to do it.

      Reply
    • Helen Post author

      It’s so frustrating not being allowed to, isn’t it? That’s why I was kind of pleased when I’d put on weight and could try and donate!

      Reply
    • Helen Post author

      Thanks lovely 🙂 It would be so amazing if someone donated off the back of reading my post. It would make me feel a bit less disappointed that I wasn’t able to.

      Reply
  4. Simon

    Everyone here is fantastic. Those giving blood, those supporting those giving giving blood and those who want to but can’t right now. Crohn’s medication stopping me right now, but I’m trying to raise awareness of this vital gift! Catch up with my progress and support me on Twitter @
    Keep well.

    Reply

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