Giving Blood for the First Time

I have now officially donated my first ever pint of blood — woohoo!

I’ve always wanted to give blood but there’s always been something preventing me from actually doing it. I remember at secondary school everyone was giving blood for the first time and I couldn’t because I had been a little bit naughty and got an underage tattoo. At that time, you had to wait out a year after getting a tattoo or piercing so I was unable to donate on this occasion. The next time I wanted to give blood, I had thought I couldn’t because of the medication I’m on, and I thought this for a long time. I put out a tweet recently stating that I wanted to give blood but couldn’t due to being on anti-depressants. The Give Blood NHS Twitter team reached out to me and told me this wasn’t always the case; I went straight on to the website to sign up to become a blood donor.

It’s a very intricate process on the day – for all of the right reasons. You turn up, fill out (or hand over) your paperwork where it goes through various questions to make sure you’re fit to give blood. Once that’s done you’re sent over to a nurse. If it’s your first time, you have quite a lengthy interview to make sure everything is OK, and if it isn’t your first time then you go through a quicker process but still the same idea. Then they check your iron count by pricking your finger; if you’re all good to go then you move on to the next stage. If not, it’s for your own good, and they are only sending you away at this time for your best interests.

The next stage is a waiting game for a bed. Once one becomes available you lay down, get comfy, and have a brief chat with the nurse; they are super lovely and make sure that you are at ease before they do anything. They also talk you through everything and keep you in the loop the whole time – so you are aware of what is happening to you.

The actual process of giving blood takes, at most, 15 minutes. All you feel is a tiny nip and then the uncomfortable moment where they take the needle out; it’s over before you know it. And you feel really good. Like you’ve done your good deed, your bit for society, it lifts you up a little.

After I gave blood for the first time, though, I went a bit iffy. Please note that this is only my experience and it hasn’t put me off – just gave me a bit of a fright at the time. So, I got up off the bed, and made my way over to the wee biscuit and drinks table (they always provide you with goodies after you’ve gave blood to up your sugar level and as a wee reward for being a soldier). Suddenly, I felt the room spinning. I sat down and was given a drink of orange juice. Meanwhile I was trying to open a Kit-Kat and nothing was happening; I was wrestling with this biscuit and I could not for the life of me get it open. I was so embarrassed as there were people all around me. I tried to wait it out, hoping it would go away, but the lightheadedness just kept getting worse and worse. I broke out in an unbelievable sweat and I could feel the colour draining from my face. Everything went fuzzy and I knew I had to say something.

I told the lady serving the drinks, I believe she was a nurse, that I wasn’t feeling right. I could barely get the words out. She ushered me over to a bed, and elevated my legs, so that they were up high and the blood could make it’s way through the rest of my body (I think). Then she pulled a board over to cover me as people were gawking… and all I could think about was my Kit-Kat and how much I wanted that biscuit. If only I could have got it open.

After roughly 7-10 minutes I came round. The room looked normal again, I could see my Kit-Kat awaiting me on the table, and I asked the lady if it was OK to sit at the table again. She made sure I was ok before leaving and then I got a lift home. I was totally fine after 15 minutes. I just needed some food and drink in me. It was my first time, it was perhaps just a shock to my system, and it hasn’t put me off in the slightest. Just think what the person at the receiving end of my blood will be going through compared to my 15 minutes of dizziness. And I got my Kit-Kat in the end so it wasn’t all bad.

I’d definitely recommend making a point of giving blood, it’s such a rewarding experience, and you do feel really good inside for doing it. It doesn’t take too long and it’s only once every 12 weeks or something like that. Check out the website to read all of the rules and regulations for giving blood – as there’s too many for me to tell you all about on here. Like I said, it’s an intricate process, but for all of the right reasons.

Your blood could save someone’s life. Please consider donating.

 

Charlene McElhinney

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3 Comments

  1. February 12, 2018 / 8:36 pm

    Giving blood is something I really want to do! When I have looked in the past I could never do it because I was quite small at the time and the measurements didn’t match up! However, I do believe I’m at the weight now where I can give blood so maybe I’ll look into doing it soon! Well done on doing such a wonderful deed Charlene!

    Tabitha x
    http://www.whattabithaloves.co.uk/

  2. February 12, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    Well done! I’ve given blood a few times, but I have really small veins so there’s a lot of discomfort. A lot of people feel faint the first time they donate. I’ve seen a grown man faceplant from feeling faint. It’s so good to hear positive stories about giving blood. It might convince more people to do their bit. x

  3. February 22, 2018 / 6:40 pm

    I work for a blood bank in the USA and I thank you for saving lives in your community. This is something that helps people who need a transfusion just to live. You can also donate platelets and plasma too. You are a hero to someone who’s life will be impacted by your help. Way to go.

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