Signing up as a blood donor and why you should too
We’ve all seen the adverts. We all know the slogan urging us to “do something amazing.”
Well, this week, I did. I joined dozens of other people at the King’s Centre in Lynn on Monday night to give blood.
For many, it was a familiar experience. For others, like me, it was a first time and my reason for being there was entirely personal.
My dad hasn’t been well for a while now and in January, while I was on leave from work, I had to take him into hospital for a blood transfusion.
All in all, we were there for about six hours for scans and two new bags of blood to be transferred into him.
But it was only after I’d got him home that it hit me. Somebody, somewhere, maybe more than one person, had taken the time to donate that blood so it was there for him when he needed it.
Once that realisation hit me, there was nothing else to do. I signed up as a donor there and then.
I’m not alone in that. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which manages the system in England, says nearly 10,000 people in Norfolk alone signed up as blood donors last year and supplies, for the moment at least, are good.
But, nationally, 200,000 new donors are needed every year.
Steve Mills, NHSBT manager for the North Anglia region, said: “We always need new donors and we thank Allister for joining the thousands of people in Norfolk who help save and improve lives every year.”
Some of the reasons why people can’t donate can be found in the questionnaire donors are sent after they book an appointment, ranging from ill-health and pregnancy to lifestyle and travel to particular parts of the world.
A few more questions at the appointment are then followed by a test to make sure the donor’s iron levels are high enough to donate. If the drop of blood taken from your finger sinks to the bottom of the test solution, you’re good to go.
Next it’s to a bed that reminded me of a dentist’s chair for the actual donation process.
A total of 470 millilitres, a little less than Tony Hancock’s famous pint, is taken within just a few minutes and it’s extraordinary to think that such a short process can potentially help three people in need at any time.
Then it’s to the tea table for drinks and snacks to make sure donors are fine to leave.
All told, the whole process, from arriving at the centre until I left, took about 90 minutes.
That might seem a long time until you think of it like this. It’s 90 minutes, at most once every three months, to help people in desperate urgent need or people with serious illnesses like my dad.
I’ve never been someone who has lived a really healthy lifestyle and yet I’m still able to help others like this. If I can do it, maybe you can too.
As Mr Mills says: “We always need new donors to replace those who can no longer donate.
“If you can’t find an appointment straight away because sessions are busy, please don’t worry – even if you donate in a couple of months you will still be saving lives.”
To register, or book an appointment, visit www.blood.co.uk or phone 0300 1232323. You can do an awful lot of good in very little time.