“I don’t like needles.” That was always my answer to why I didn’t give blood.
However when Margot was sick and needed a regular supply of blood products, it made me look at blood donation in a different way. I was experiencing the heartache of watching my niece go through so much and needing blood products to keep her clinically well. Yet I was depending on others, unknown selfless individuals, to help Margot and to potentially help my loved ones and me if we needed blood. It was then that I realized that I needed to face my fear.
It was an easy process – I went onto the blood.co.uk website, registered and login in. I searched for a location near me on a convenient date and then started to panic! Would it hurt; would I faint at the sight of blood; what if I cry (I did)!
I booked my appointment on a date a couple of months away and I started to feel anxious as the date approached. When it arrived, I turned up in my Team Margot pink t-shirt and told the nurse why I was there and that it was my first time donating blood. She and the other staff were wonderfully supportive especially when my lack of good veins meant that they couldn’t initially get the needle into my arm. After the second time of trying, they told me that sometimes people just can’t give blood. Embarrassingly I started to cry in front of everyone and told them that they had to try again! They did and they succeeded in getting the needle into a tiny vein.
Surprisingly the needle in my arm didn’t actually hurt! There was a sharp scratch as the needle went in but other than that it didn’t hurt and it was all over in around 10 minutes. I felt proud, grateful and determined that I would continue to give blood for the rest of my life.
However this is not to be. Despite being a very rare blood type of AB+, I can only give to others who are AB+ so I’ve been asked to stop giving blood until I’m contacted to do so again. I was extremely disappointed to receive this news and also annoyed that I had waited so long to donate. However the blood service only collect what they need to avoid wasting any donations so I understand why my blood type is not needed now. This video also helped explain how the different blood types can help others – https://youtu.be/B6dAPXpUjCE
So that’s why I’m supporting National Blood Week.
Please don’t forget to book in your appointment now to give blood. The blood donation venues get booked up fast so go online to https://www.blood.co.uk to guarantee your place.
If you have not donated blood before, then there is no time like the present! Not only is being a blood donor an honour but you might have one of the blood groups in need such as O negative.
If you are male or black, you are also in demand! Men don’t produce antibodies like women do during pregnancy. This means the plasma and platelets from their donations can often also be used, which helps save people with burns, serious injuries, and cancer. New black blood donors are needed to save lives, as there is still a shortage of black donors who are more likely to have the rarer blood types needed by some black patients.
· There are around 5,000 donations a day.
· We need 400 new blood donors every day to keep our country running and to ensure we have the right groups at the right time. This is because nearly a quarter of donors stop donating every year for various reasons such as poor health or pregnancy.
· Red blood can only be stored for 35 days, which explains why there is a constant need for blood donations.
· Platelets can be stored for up to 7 days.
· Plasma can be stored for up to 3 years.
· Women can donate every 16 weeks. Men can donate blood every 12 weeks. The reason why women cannot donate as often as men is because female donors do not have the same levels of stored iron as male donors.
· Learn more about your blood type here: https://www.blood.co.uk/why-give-blood/blood-types/
Team Margot’s mission
To help save and improve lives by educating, inspiring and motivating people, especially from ethnically diverse communities, to register as blood, organ, stem cell and bone marrow donors and to provide a range of support to families caring for child cancer patients.
Team Margot also provides secretariat support to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethnicity Transplantation and Transfusion.