Giving Blood – The Facts

I am going to donate blood today. The first time I did this was a few years ago when a big Blood Service bus arrived at my workplace. I realised that if a big bus comes to you workplace and asks for help, then it must be important.

I have given blood over 24 times. I know that because they gave me an enamel badge as a reward. The badge is now in a drawer at home with all my other badges, mainly from the 1970’s when they were really popular and had band names like ‘Buzzcocks’ and ‘The Jam’ on them.

Nottingham’s blood donor centre is on Castle Boulevard. There are two ways of getting there. Drive and park outside or take a walk along the canal. I prefer the walk along the canal for two reasons.

  • It relaxes you and lowers your blood pressure. This is useful because if your blood pressure was high, they would probably say ‘Not today thank-you’.
  • It makes you feel good and when you see a duck on the canal you can say to it. ‘I’m going to give blood duck!’

I have been donating blood for over 10 years. Not continuously of course. That would be a miracle and I would be really famous. I would probably have changed my name to ‘Billy Bloodbank’ and toured the world.

I will now stop being silly and get to the point of this post; which is to explain to those who have not given blood, what actually happens during the 30 minute visit. 

Over the years I have noticed that we blood donors have certain things in common. Our blood is a nice red colour and more significantly, having donated; we all choose the orange Club Biscuit to eat with our cup of tea! Both these common traits may only relate to Nottingham donors, I’m not completely sure.

When I donate in a couple of hours, I anticipate the following routine:

I expect to be greeted with a smile and asked to complete the donor questionnaire. Having done that, I will be given an information sheet about the National Blood Service. I will have a drink of water while I pretend to read the information sheet. Being a regular, I already know this information, so I can pretend to read it. That means that I can check my smartphone or watch daytime TV on the wall mounted television. Personally I stick with the smartphone, but you have a choice.

After a couple of minutes, I will go to a consultation room where a member of staff will ask me for the first line of my address and my date of birth. I have never got either of these questions wrong, but I have heard that if you do, you are made to sit on the ‘naughty chair’ next to Michael Gove! For those that don’t know, Michael Gove is the current Education Secretary who is mis-behaving a lot. As a result the Prime Minister has had to make him sit on the naughty chair several times.

Having passed this test, they will prick my finger and test my blood for iron. I assume this is really important, otherwise there would be no point.

I will then return to the waiting area, and after a couple of minute, be called to make my donation. This involves sitting in a specially designed chair that tilts back into a relaxing position. The member of staff will then try and catch me out by asking me for the first line of my address again. They will then prepare my none writing arm, the blood being taken from a vein just below the inside of my elbow. My donation probably only takes 10 minutes. During it, you are asked to flex your hand in order to help the flow of blood. After donation, they put a plaster over where the blood was taken from.

I will then go to the refreshment area where another member of staff will offer me tea, coffee or a soft drink. While they make the drink I will look in the bowl of biscuits. There will be a wide selection. It is possible that someone may have hidden the orange Club biscuits at the bottom. In the unlikely event of there being none, I will complain and suggest that I will never donate blood again. Within a few seconds, more orange Club biscuits will arrive. I will drink my tea, eat my biscuit and walk back into town.

Please note; I tend not to walk back via the canal. Having done my good deed of the day, I have more important things to do than strike up a conversation with duck!  


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