What to expect when you give blood for the first time
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“Oh! Mummy, what have you done!” – My Friday night giving blood

Back in August I made the decision to finally look into giving blood. I can’t remember what spurred me on. It’s something I have wanted to do for ages. I looked into it a few years ago but I had had a tattoo recently. Then I looked again after having Spike. But too soon after having her. Finally, last Friday night, I was able to donate my first pint of blood.

The rules around giving blood

There are a lot of rule around giving blood. You can’t have had a tattoo in the last 4 months. Have had a child or been pregnant in the last 6 months. You have to discuss any things with the donation centre staff in more detail than I thought you would. But its all to make sure the blood they take is useable. You can check the fantastic NHS Blood website if you are thinking about giving blood but are unsure of the rules. They are pretty clear.

Signing up for a blood donation appointment

As mentioned, I signed up for my appointment in August. At the beginning of August. The end of November was the first possible appointment for me in my area. There were other donation centre dates, but they were pretty much full. Instead I signed up and booked into an appointment on a Friday night at my first possible opportunity. It was easy to do and didn’t take long at all.

Lealfet given to me to explain the blood donor processIn the run up to my appointment

I received a letter about a week ago which had questions on it. These were to make sure they would be able to use the blood I was donating and to remind me of the appointment. As it got closer I started getting more and more nervous. I had period pain, could I take ibuprofen though? (yes, it turns out). It was raining that day, could I drive to the appointment? (Again, yes. They make sure you are fine before you leave.) I picked Spike up early from nursery, had a good tea and nipped out an hour before bedtime, unsure if I would make it back in time to tuck her in.

Arriving at the blood donation centre

I was impressed at how smooth everything went when I got to the donation centre. It took place in my local town council offices. The banqueting suite had been transformed into a health clinic. I signed in, was asked to read a leaflet and drink a pint of juice and take a seat. I was booked in for 6:10pm, and was called over just a little late at 6:15pm. The clinician went through the checklist I had been sent and checked the couple of things I’d answered yes to. In my experience, I had to let them where I’d been abroad recently and then discuss my hospital investigations with a nurse.

Having my blood taken

Once I’d been cleared I was asked to take a seat while they worked out which donation station I would be at, then I got sat down. The woman who had done my health check got me comfy. I was given a leaflet to read about exercises to do while my blood was taken. The blood pressure monitor went on, the numbing gel was applied and the needle was inserted. I started reading my book and just ignored the needle. I don’t like needles so it was important to distract myself. I was asked if I wanted it covered up but I declined. There was only one point where I got concerned as the machine started beeping. Someone came over and asked me to carry on squeezing my fist and it soon stopped.

After my donation

The actual process of giving blood took about 15-20 minutes. Once it was over the guy who stopped the machine talked to me to distract me and it totally worked. I didn’t even notice him taking the needle out and he slowly moved the chair upright, making sure I was ok while he did it. He told me that I would be sent my blood type and blood donation card in the post. He also said that they would text me where my blood was being used. Which is so cool! He stuck a plaster on then a pressure stick to ensure that the vein closed up, and directed me towards a table with juice, hot drinks for previous donors, and biscuits, crisps and fruit. Having been advised to stay here for 15 minutes and eat and drink something, I did.

Spike’s reaction to my plaster

Even with stopping behind for 15 minutes for my drink and biscuit, I was still home before Spike went to bed. She was so worried about my arm when she noticed it. Sitting down with her and I explained that I’d given some of my blood to the drs and nurses to help them save someones life. I’m not sure she got it but she understood it was a kind thing to do.

My reasons for giving blood

I have always wanted to give blood and do my bit for helping others. However it has become more important to me in recent years because of Spike. It has also become more important since I started commuting as far as I do up the M6 every morning. I honestly don’t think that there is a week that goes by with no accidents on our stretch of that motorway. The thought of it terrifies me, but at least I can do something which will potentially help the people who are seriously hurt in those accidents.