Today (14 June), is World Blood Donor Day, when we spread awareness of the importance of blood donation, to encourage more people to head to their local centre and donate.
Established in 2004 by the World Health Organisation, the day hopes to encourage people around the world to conquer their fears or reservations about giving blood.
Blood transfusions can be lifesaving, but only if the hospital has enough of each blood type – the more people that give blood, the more lives can potentially be saved.
In Scotland, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service runs the donation sessions, aiming to maintain at least a six day stock across the country.
Currently, Scottish levels of type A+, AB+, O+ and O- are below target levels, meaning new donors are urgently needed to ensure everyone who needs one can have a blood transfusion.
Before your appointment, it’s vital to make sure you’ve eaten plenty throughout the day and have filled up on water – not only will this reduce the chances of fainting during the donation, increased levels of water actually help the donation go faster.
It’s perfectly normal to be nervous before your first appointment, but the staff are on hand to ensure you’re comfortable and are able to talk through your worries beforehand.
When you arrive, you’ll be asked to check all your personal details are correct and to fill in a health questionnaire.
You must answer honestly, as certain responses can mean you are unable to give blood: if you’ve had a cold or infection, it’s best to wait until you’re fully recovered, as this could be dangerous for the person who receives your blood.
After filling out the forms, you’ll be taken to have your iron levels tested, to make sure giving blood won’t endanger yourself. This involves a quick and easy finger prick test. If your iron levels are too low, you won’t be allowed to give blood.
If you’re given the go-ahead, you’ll be asked which arm you’d like to donate from (PRO TIP: it takes less time if you donate from your leading arm, the one you write with).
Then you’ll be taken to a donation chair. A nurse will chat with you as they search for a vain and insert the needle – this is, admittedly, the worst part, but once the needle is in, you can’t feel it, and you’ll be made to feel comfortable by the nurses.
The length of time the donations take varies: a full donation is 470ml, and usually takes as little as five-10 minutes. That’s the length of time it takes to potentially save someone’s life.
Afterwards, you’re advised to enjoy a drink and biscuit to relax after your donation. You can also pick up a sticker to commemorate your first donation.
It’s as simple as that – the whole process takes around half an hour – the same length of time as an episode of Emmerdale or a quick walk. So, what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest donation centre today, to save a life.
You can book your blood donor appointments at the ScotBlood website.