Warning: No graphic descriptions, but I will be describing the process of donating blood.
This is a bit of a weird, niche blog post, this time around. A lot of my fellow bloggers have written some awesome posts about starting university, settling in and Freshers’ Week – they’re really interesting and entertaining, so go and give them a read. Because of this, however, I thought I’d post about something entirely different, unexpected and hopefully not what you think of when you think of Freshers: blood donation!
So, last year during ReFreshers (something to look forward to, new UoL students who are already missing Freshers’ Week), the NHS had a stall at the university, where you could fill out a medical form, to sign up to the donation scheme. I’d always wanted to donate blood – I believe it’s a really valuable thing to do, as it can save people’s lives, and it’s only a short amount of your time – but I’d never know how to sign up. So I jumped at the chance to get involved in the process, what with it being right in front of me. After filling out my medical form, I was then tested to see what blood type I was, using a finger-prick test (which hardly felt like anything, trust me). Then I booked an appointment to donate blood, and waited to receive a letter confirming my registration! Easy.
Now, before I’d signed up to donate, I’d recently had both a piercing and a tattoo, which meant that I had to wait 4 months before I gave blood, as a potential infection could affect my blood. There are a few regulations like this, about blood donation – so, if you’re considering giving blood, then I’d advise that you check you’re eligible at www.blood.co.uk, so you can avoid a long waiting time, which I did.
Four months later, I was on my way to give blood! I’d received my letter from NHS Blood, confirming my appointment, and I’d filled in my attached medical form, which I needed to hand in when I arrived. The Leicester blood donation was behind the Highcross (though it is now moving closer to Leicester cathedral; the location can be found online), which was pretty central and easily accessible. I’ll admit that I was weirdly excited about it.
Once I’d arrived, I ‘checked in’ at the reception and had to read their welcome pamphlet, while waiting to be called; I also had to drink a glass of water so that, when I gave blood, I didn’t lose too many fluids. Then I went through to see a nurse, who checked my medical form with me – when that was all approved, I had to have an iron test, to make sure that my levels were high enough, which involved another finger-prick test. I was then led back out to the main room, where my blood would be taken.
You sit in these huge, bowl-like chairs which are tipped back when you start donating, so that the blood loss is equally distributed. After that, it’s simply a case of having an injection – the needle goes into a vein on your non-dominant arm, attached to an IV, which just feels odd until it fully goes into your arm. Then you just have to wait for around 10-15 minutes as the machine takes about a pint of blood, as you squeeze your hand to keep the blood flor circulating. It’s a lot quicker and calmer than you’d think. Afterwards, the needle is taken out, and the bag sealed up and taken away, and a plaster is placed over the wound. You can then go and have a complimentary biscuit/snack to get your energy back up, and that’s the end of the process! It’s weirdly fun.
A while later, I also received a ‘thank you’ letter from the NHS for donating blood for the first time, along with a keyring which has my blood-type on it (O+, if you’re curious), which I have on my keys to this day!
So, all in all, my trip to donate blood was really satisfying and interesting, and donating blood is going to become a regular part of my life, as it’s a great, easy way to help people. And I hope that, by reading this post, a few of you might be inspired to sign up and donate blood!
Thank you for reading! Peace.
To sign up, please go to the NHS blood donating website!