It's very important. Too little and you may find yourself gasping for breath. Too much and you are at risk of a stroke. Yeah, that important.
Today is a day of awareness for blood donation arranged by a clever pair of ladies. There is a realm of information that it is important for you to know (and I've included all that at the end of the post) but I wanted to include a personal story too.
This isn't me tooting my own horn for giving blood, for me it seems like a normal thing to do. Admittedly I am yet to become a true regular donor but I am getting closer to my silver award.
In a former life I learnt about the power of blood. I learnt it's "mystical" properties and I've seen it literally breathe life into the dying and bring people back from the brink. It is truly a very precious gift. I know to call it a gift seems to rather exaggerate the significance but I am still rather glad that in this country donors are yet to receive any monetary gain.
So donation. I imagine that for many of you this is the major barrier against donation so let me demystify you.
1. You arrive and fill in a health questionnaire to ensure there is no reason you cannot give blood. If you are unsure a nurse or doctor will have a quick chat with you.
2. You have a pin prick test to ensure you have plenty of haemaglobin (the part of blood which carries the oxygen) because if you run a little low normally it's not a good idea to take more! (If you really want to give blood, try eating red things form tomatoes to steaks!
3. You get to lie down on the rather comfy seats (well they are rather comfy at the West End Donation Centre!)
4. A blood pressure is pumped up and yours veins are examined for the best one.
5. When one is found it's go time! The needle, which is only slightly larger than the one used to take blood for a blood test is gently inserted. Trust me when I say it is gentle. These are nice big veins and you hardly feel a thing.
6. You sit for around 10 minutes, gently opening and closing your fist to keep the blood flowing
7. The needle is removed, a lovely plaster is applied and you lie quietly for a couple of minutes.
8. Time for tea and biscuits. Whoop.
9. Take it easy - do not do an anna and skip tea and biscuits and dash for a bus on the hottest day of the year - not good!
See I promised it wasn't too bad. You get to feel all altruistic and good about yourself. You get extra cuddles and can eat something very calorific to make up for the blood less. Now that is surely worth it?
Please know that your blood is treasured. Whether it is given to a patient in dire need or to incredibly clever scientists and doctors. It is just so important. If but 50% of the population were able to donate blood once a year, the transfusion service would be able to save many, many, many more lives. I cannot implore you to give blood any more. Although I have been known to bully people into giving blood so if I see you in the near future....
Perhaps if you are a little nervous pop in with a friend. A little hand holding and cuddles afterwards. It is good for the soul. Or if you fancy donating in a few weeks time I would happily come with you. How about we all go together? We can go for virgin cocktails afterwards. Ooo now that's a plan.
And just a note from our sponsors
And here are the clever words from the wonderful ladies Emma and Fiona have co-ordinated this great campaign.
Some people already donate blood. However, those who don’t tend to fall into two categories: too squeamish or too forgetful. Both reasons are totally understandable, conquering a phobia of needles or blood is a huge thing to ask, as is scheduling the time for a regular appointment to donate.
It is an astonishing fact that only 4% of the population provides donations of blood for the rest of us. That’s a lot to expect of so few people. Especially when this is one of those times when you really can have a massive impact on the lives of others, by doing something so simple.
So, why are we campaigning for this? Many of us have been affected first-hand by the importance of having a ready supply of blood, and realise how very different life could be without it. Just stop for a minute and think what might happen if you couldn’t get the blood transfusion that you take for granted will be there. This is the perfect forum to bring it to the forefront of people’s minds, especially those who have been contemplating donating blood but just haven’t got round to doing it yet.
If you’re physically able to give blood do please try to make time, it can literally make you a lifesaver. We would love it if donating blood became a regular habit for you, something that is done on a regular basis without giving it a second thought. If you can’t donate then please continue this campaign by asking all those you know who can to make an appointment – ask them to do it now… today, not when they get round to it.
Do read this blog and the associated posts from all of those involved in this campaign. There will be some very personal stories that we hope may open your eyes to how important blood donors are and how you never know when you may be the recipient of the blood that these wonderful people give.
If you feel that you are ready to donate blood, please go to the Give Blood website to find your nearest blood donor session.
A final word from me.
Just give blood already. I promise it's not as scary as you may think. All you London ladies there is a donation centre on Margaret Street which is just north of Oxford Street. Two roads north of Topshop. See, not far! It is open Monday to Friday, they are really friendly and they have appointments as late as 7pm. Why not make it part of your shopping day? For me?