My Experience of Donating Blood.

WARNING IN THIS POST I TALK ABOUT BLOOD AND NEEDLES – IF THIS MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE DON’T READ.


One of my biggest fears in life has always been needles. Any kind of needles. Acupuncture, injections, even stings on bugs remind me of them and make me squirm. I don’t really know where the fear started, but that’s not the subject for this post. I recently said in a post how I really wanted to conquer my fear and donate blood. Blood is something that has just never bothered me. I always had friends who got squeamish over it, but nope to me. It is so vital to everyone’s survival and we literally produce it ourselves no matter what. There are so many out there that need it, so for me it was an easy decision to go and give. This is my own experience of when I went to donate.

I booked my appointment on the urging of my friend. She had given plenty of time’s, so it was nothing to her. Having her there talking me through it all, made it seem so easy and really relaxed me. When it came to actually booking it I didn’t think twice. It’s a really easy process, you can do it on online (here) and you just create an account, fill out a quick form and book a time and place. Nice and easy. So, we agreed to go on Tuesday. Her session was scheduled for before mine, so that she could sit with me and I found that this was a really nice way of doing it.

On Tuesday morning, I was told to drink lots of water and eat lots of food, so I made sure to have a big breakfast – don’t do what I did and just eat a load of weird things you had left over because they will ask what you had. That was a little embarrassing. Anyway, in the morning I had a huge breakfast and made sure to drink lots of water with my meal. I was also super careful to dress in shorts sleeves. You can just wear something that is easy to roll up, but I wanted to make sure I was in something comfortable. So on went a short sleeved top and a hoodie, nice and comfy. Before I went, I had one class at 12 so I walked in with my friend and we worked on campus until the class and then went back down to he lounge to have lunch.

Food and water is incredibly important while giving blood. You need to make sure that you take good care of your body so that it can replenish yourself after loosing a pint of blood (its actually just under a pint). You’re supposed to drink at least 2.5 litres, so the entire day I was reminding myself to drink and eat. I also packed with me a mini packet of Oreos for myself and one for my friend, to make sure we had plenty of sugar. If like me your appointment is after lunch, have a nice big lunch. I took a mini flask full of rice and curry which was perfect and made me feel nice and full. Then it was time to leave.

As I mentioned, my session was after my friends so while she ran off to give, I decided to wander around town since I felt watching it would make me feel more nervous. It was lucky I did because someone decided to come visit me from Liverpool! Jenny came down to sort out something at one of the shops in Birmingham, so we met up and went for a little wander while I awaited my session. The time went quickly and soon enough I was running through the rain to get to my appointment.

I was really nervous now, but I’d be damned if I was going to let that stop me from donating. So I went on up to the clique and signed it. They gave me a form to fill in, just a quick questionnaire asking me general health questions. It not very intrusive or anything. Afterwards they give you a booklet to look through and ask you to drink a huge glass of water. As I say water is really important, especially since the blood you give is something like 80% water. You need to replace that. Drinking also make sure that you veins expand slightly making them easier to access. Once I had finished my glass I went in to a private room for something called the screening.

After arriving my brain had seemed to decided the the screening was the scariest part of the process. It’s not. It doesn’t even last that long actually, probably about 3 minutes. Anyway, so I went in and they ask you some questions, things like what you’ve had to eat that day. Had you drunk enough water and whether you had been out of the country. Nice and simple. Then they simply ask you to put your hand out on the desk. I will warn you that they prick your finger with a needle here, but you don’t see the needle and its so fast. When I was describing it to my friends to me it felt like someone putting a fountain pen against my finger. Thats it. it doesn’t hurt, but you do feel it. They just take a drop and put on a white stick which they then drip into a solution. If it sinks your good, if it doesn’t then you won’t be able to donate. It is simply a test to check you haemoglobin and iron levels. It’s that simple and honestly you barely bleed.

Once that was over (I Passed! Yay!!), I was led into the coffee and tea section. Your only here for a few minutes to wait for a bed to be clear. I would suggest if you had the opportunity, have another drink. The more you drink the better you will feel. My friend was already in this section after donating so we chatted for literally a few seconds before I was called forward again. Now I was really nervous and I was shaking when I sat down on the chair.

I took off my coat, and bless them they put it on the coat rack and everything, and then my hoodie and popped that down beside me. The room is really warm so I didn’t feel cold once in my shorts sleeves. It was super comfy. Even the chairs, though they look plastic and uncomfortable, they are actually so comfy. Anyway, sorry. So, I sat down and I was rally shaky, but the nurse was fantastic. She talked to me and tried to calm me down. Its really important o know that at any point in the session before the needle is in, you can blackout, say no and they won’t mind. This is at any point. You are here to donate by your own free will, so if you are scared you can stopFirst off they give you a clip board with a few things to do throughout the donation. Just exercises to make sure that your blood is flowing properly and to keep you comfortable. While reading the board she started looking for a good enough vein. The vein they use has to be quite big, as the needle isn’t small. This was where I ran into a bit of a problem, I have really small veins. So this poor nurse was patting at the inside of my elbow, trying to find one big enough and she just couldn’t, so she tried the other side handsome problem. There was this really tiny part of me which felt a bit of relief, I didn’t have to have needle shoved in my arm. But at the same time, I was frustrated. I really really wanted to donate and my body wasn’t cooperating. In the end they got another nurse over, who was just as awesome and after a lot of encouragement form me, they found one on the side of my arm.

I turned away as they prepped my arm, but the entire time they talked to me. they calmed me down when I started to shake again and they were so good. I can’t tell you how amazing they were. Soon enough they were ready to put in the needle, I just looked away and they did what they needed. I didn’t even see it before it was in and honestly I’m glad. The needle was not small. But, it didn’t hurt. Don’t get me wrong, I felt it go in. But it didn’t feel nearly as sore as I thought. Within seconds I went from panicking to staring at this needle in my arm with kind of amazement. It was so strange to me. It didn’t bother me a bit seeing the blood or the needle, I guess it was just the putting it in that bothered me. I couldn’t feel it while I was in, other than it lying against the skin which was cold. That was it though. I didn’t’t feel the blood going out, although my friend says she kind of can but it just makes her arm feel heavy. Not one step of it is painful. The giving doesn’t take long at all. 10 minutes is all it took me. Granted I had to pump my hand open and closed a lot more than others (small veins thank you!), but it went by rather quickly. First, they take a mini bag for testing, and then they take the larger almost ½ pint bag (not quite), but they just click something, and it switches. No changing of needles or anything. My friend and I chatted the entire time. I must admit, I was a little shaky, but I think most of it was nerves and adrenaline. Soon enough it was over, and they were taking it out and putting on the plasters. Taking it out didn’t hurt one bit, though I thought that would be worse. It literally felt like taking a plaster off and not even one that was fully attached. It was weird.

I turned away as they prepped my arm, but the entire time they talked to me. they calmed me down when I started to shake again and they were so good. I can’t tell you how amazing they were. Soon enough they were ready to put in the needle, I just looked away and they did what they needed. I didn’t even see it before it was in and honestly I’m glad. The needle was not small. But, it didn’t hurt. Don’t get me wrong, I felt it go in. But it didn’t feel nearly as sore as I thought. Within seconds I went from panicking to staring at this needle in my arm with kind of amazement. It was so strange to me. It didn’t bother me a bit seeing the blood or the needle, I guess it was just the putting it in that bothered me. I couldn’t feel it while I was in, other than it lying against the skin which was cold. That was it though. I didn’t’t feel the blood going out, although my friend says she kind of can but it just makes her arm feel heavy. Not one step of it is painful.

The donation itself doesn’t take long at all. 10 minutes is all it took me. Granted I had to pump my hand open and closed a lot more than others (small veins thank you!), but it went by rather quickly. First, they take a mini bag for testing, and then they take the larger almost a whole pint bag, but they just click something, and it switches. No changing of needles or anything. My friend and I chatted the entire time. I must admit, I was a little shaky, but I think most of it was nerves and adrenaline. Soon enough it was over, and they were taking it out and putting on the plasters. Taking it out didn’t hurt one bit, though I thought that would be worse. It literally felt like taking a plaster off and not even one that was fully attached. It was really weird.

Afterwards they gently sit you up, one bit at a time to make sure you’re not dizzy and then walk you over to the coffee section. If you’ve donated less than 5 times then you have to dink only cold drinks, but after you can have tea or coffee. Before I could leave, I had to have drunk another cup of water and eaten one of the snacks they provide – don’t worry there’s a lot of options! I felt a little light headed afterwards, but otherwise I was fine. In fact, I was more than fine. I felt amazing. I had done something good for others, I had helped, but I had also done it despite my biggest fear.

I’m so glad that I actually managed to give. It’s so important to do it if you can and if your nervous do what I did and take a friend. If I, someone who is terrified of needles, can sit there for a mare 10 minutes and give, you can to. It costs us nothing and gives who needs it everything. I’ll be going back in May to donate again. If you have any questions don’t be afraid to comment below or send us a message on Twitter, I will be completely honest.

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