Giving blood is something that we all say we want to do, but only 4% of the population regularly donate. My question is this, if you needed a transfusion, wouldn’t you accept it, and if you would, then why not donate and do someone else the favour? Blood donation is easier than some may think, you just sit back, relax and are then forced to eat biscuits, what’s so hard?
Well, blood transfusions can be difficult due to the large number of blood groups within humans, but of these many groups there are the two most important: the ABO and Rhesus (RhD) systems.
- Within the ABO group, you can be group O, A, B or AB.
- For the rhesus group, you are either RhD positive or RhD negative.
So, if you’re curious you can find out your blood group through the use of commercial kits, but if you donate then you are sent a donor card with your ABO and RhD group on it.
Seemingly small differences in these groups can have life threatening consequences if blood groups are mixed up. If, for example, a patient who is A negative is given blood that is B positive, then the patients immune system will attack the B positive blood as it is seen as a “foreign invader”.
For donation itself, there are many safety protocols in place, which are to protect both you and patients. Every time you donate you must fill in a health form. You can see some of these questions and test yourself here: http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/donor-health-check/
So, you turn up to your appointment (which is booked online and via email) with your filled in health form and take a seat, where they have you drink a pint of water to make up for the fluids to be lost. Next, you see a nurse where they discuss your form, have you sign an agreement and carry out the finger prick test, which many agree is more painful than donation! This is to test if your blood has enough iron, sadly, if you don’t then you can’t donate. But if you pass the test then you are onto the donation.
After all these health checks, you get to have a lie down whilst the staff prepare your arm, find a vein and insert the needle. They take samples which are to be tested for diseases such as HIV before hooking you up to the bag which will hold the near pint of blood. Whilst donating, they have you doing gentle exercises, clenching your hand, buttocks and gently moving your legs, and if you’re anything like me, who’s blood flow can be a bit slow, then they give you some tissues to squeeze to get the juices flowing.
Finally, once a pint has been collected, they gently sit you up, making sure you don’t feel faint, put a plaster on your arm and sit you down with other donors to eat free biscuits, crisps and drinks. I gave blood last week, on the 28th March, and here’s the end result:
So…fancy giving a pint?