I’m almost 35 years old now, and have never needed to receive a blood transfusion. I’m one of the lucky ones. I donated blood regularly until I had the kids, at which point I found out I have a clotting disorder, and as such I can no longer donate.
A friend mentioned a while back that she had never donated as she didn’t know what was involved, so this post has been on my to do list for a while. When I saw the Your Extraordinary Blood tool, I pushed it to the top of my to do list…
You put in your weight, and then it tells you all about your body’s blood.
I weigh 13 stone and am 5 foot 9 inches tall, so that’s a fair old amount of blood swishing around inside of me. The information tells you how many cells that breaks down into as well. For me, that’s 26.7 trillion red blood cells, 37.4 billion white blood cells and 1.6 trillion platelets…
It then goes on to show you the actual percentage of your body’s blood which is taken when you donate blood. For me, it’s under 9% of my body’s blood – which probably explains why I never suffered any of the expected after affects when I donated….. Dizziness, light headedness etc.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise totally, so I won’t tell you all of the information contained within the tool, but I was left wowed by the facts, and keen to share them with others….
What Happens When You Donate Blood?
I am O- which is the “golden goose” of blood types, as it can be given to anybody. It’s bad news for me though, as only around 7% of people are O- which means supplies run out quickly.
I went to donate blood for the first time on Valentines Day 2001. At the time, I was only 17 and did it in college. I knew my blood type and knew how important it was for me to donate. So I sucked it up and went along, not knowing what to expect. After I’d filled in the forms, a lovely nurse did a pin prick on my finger and dropped a few drops of my blood into a test tube to make sure I wasn’t anaemic. Once I’d passed that test and answered a few questions, I was led to a chair.
Once on the chair, a different (but equally lovely) nurse put a cuff on my arm to bring my veins to the surface. She popped the needle in at my inner elbow – just like the doctor does when taking bloods for a blood test. This was then connected up to a tube which lead down to the blood bag. I sat there for around 20 minutes, squeezing a ball in my hand, watching the bag slowly fill up. It wasn’t painful. You feel a scratch when the needle goes in, but once it’s in, it’s fine.
After You Donate Blood
Once the bag was full, the nurse removed the needle and asked me if I felt ok. (I felt totally fine). I was then shown to a little canteen type area. Once I sat down, I was given a cup of tea and some biscuits. After 15 minutes sat there, I was allowed to go. Less than 1 hour of my day was taken up, and I knew I had made a difference.
I donated around another 20 times before I had to stop in 2010. I used the main Blood Donation Clinic in Manchester on the other occasions as it was more convenient for me. To find out more about blood donation in the UK or to make an appointment, check out blood.co.uk.
Finally, read more of my health blog posts here.