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Personal // Giving Blood For The First Time

To sign up to give blood then click here.
I've been waiting for ages to be old enough to give blood. For me, that was a pain-free, quick and easy way to potentially help to save someone's life. I went to give blood last night and I have to admit, I had an horrific experience.

I have really small veins in my arms which makes having blood tests absolutely awful. A few years ago I had to have a blood test at my local hospital and the nurse prodded my arms for about half an hour trying to find a vein. Eventually she gave up, sliced my finger open and squeezed the blood out. This has made giving blood a horrible experience for me ever since so I thought it would be nice to try and overcome the fear.

Are you suitable to give blood?
Most people can donate blood but there are a few requirements to do so. You must be fit and healthy and you must weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs/50 kg. You must also be between the ages of 17-66 if you are a first time donater or between the ages of 17-70 if you have donated previously. Also, if you are aged 20 or under and weigh under 10 stone 3 lbs/65 kg and under 5"6 in height then you will have your blood volume measured to ensure you are suitable.

You will also be asked to fill out a form in the lead up to your appointment. You will be asked a few questions such as:
"Have you traveled outside the UK within the last 6 months?"
"Have you had any kind of infection within the last 2 weeks?"
"Are you currently taking or have taken any antibiotics within the last 7 days?"
"Do you feel unwell? Have you had or currently have, a cold recently?"
"Have you had a tattoo or a skin piercing in the last 4 months?"

There are instances when you cannot give blood. These can be found on the Blood website by clicking here.

Eat - Eat regular meals to stop yourself from getting light-headed.
Sleep - Get a good nights sleep the night before.
Drink - Drink plenty 24 hours before your appointment, whilst avoiding alcohol.
Distract - Keep yourself distracted whilst donating blood. Take a friend or a book with you.

My Experience
In all honesty, I was very nervous when I had my appointment and had no idea what to expect. When I first get to the place where I was donating blood, I had to read a health pack then drink a pint of water. Once I had done this, a nurse came out and took me to the main room. On the left hand side of the room there were private booths then in the middle of the room there were 6 beds where people were having their blood taken. I then had to go into a little booth with a nurse she asked asked some health questions before pricking my finger to get a drop of blood to ensure my iron levels were okay. I was really worried about this part as I thought it was going to hurt. My thoughts weren't comforted by the nurse who told me that some people say this hurts more than the actual giving blood bit! Fortunately, it didn't hurt. After that, I was taken to one of the beds where I was told to lie down. A nurse then cleaned the area of my arm with alcohol solution on a cotton wool piece for 30 seconds, then she searched for a vein for about 5 minutes. She finally found one then stuck the needle in and I shan't lie to you - it hurt.

They give you 15 minutes to donate just over 400 ml's of blood. Whilst you are donating, you are supposed to clench and un-clench your fist, cross your legs and clench your bum; this is supposed to help with the blood flow. After 10 minutes they had only managed to get about 200 ml's of blood from me so they stopped.

I was then made to sit up slowly whilst the nurse spoke to me. At this point the nurse was explaining to my mum what would happen to my blood but to be honest, I didn't hear any of it. I was aware that someone was talking but I couldn't make out what they were saying. I suddenly felt really sick, light-headed, dizzy and I genuinely thought I was going to faint. I said I felt a bit unwell and all hell broke loose! The nurse quickly pushed me down on the bed, stuck my legs up in the air and someone put a wet flannel over my head. I remember my eyes kept opening and closing and the nurse kept telling me off for closing my eyes! After about 5 minutes of feeling unwell I was told to gradually start sitting up again.

After about 10 minutes asking permission to use the bathroom, the nurse reluctantly let me go but I was chaperoned. When I got back from the bathroom I had to sit at the "tea table" - a table with lots of drinks and biscuits on. I tried to enjoy the free biscuits and cakes but I honestly felt so unwell and so on the verge of fainting that I just wanted to head home to feel sorry for myself.

I would love to try and donate blood again. I did feel very unwell for a few days afterwards but hopefully that won't happen next time!

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