What happens when you go to donate blood - My experience

Donating blood was something I had on my list of things to do for a while and in November 18 it crossed my mind again. Onto the internet I went looking to see what is actually entailed in donating blood, and along those lines thought I’d write about my first time donating and what’s involved.

First things first, is finding your nearest place on the NHS site blood.co.uk, (which includes everything about the donation and more), you can do a quick quiz whether your eligible, after that book a timeslot and wait until the day.

Arriving there, checked in with the receptionist and receive a tick box questionnaire to fill out, two pages involving questions like time and places abroad in recent months, medication, recent illnesses and other things that could have an effect. Whilst doing this I’m in the seating area with a plethora of salty snacks in front including crisps, peanuts and others, being told to have a glass/plastic cup of water and a snack packet of preference prior to the donation.

After handing the questionnaire back a short wait follows, and then called into a room with one of the nurses to go through the questionnaire with any additional questions they need. Then there is a small test where the nurse takes a drop of blood by pricking my finger with a fancy tool (which is really just a needle in fancy plastic dressing), and put in a liquid solution, unfortunately can’t remember the chemical name, to see if it contains enough haemoglobin and iron.

All ticked off there and given confirmation that I can donate blood.

Enter the donation area consisting of the seats, donation bags and lots of tubes with a separate side area again containing a generous supply of snacks and drinks. I sit back in my assigned seat.

I did get a slight surprise as after sitting back the nurse then let the chair fall back like a recliner. Not expecting this gave me a bit of a start as it goes quite far back and felt like I was going to flip over, finishing in a laid-back position. Quite funny in hindsight.

After that, Needle time.

I don’t have trypanophobia, but I do think it’s naturally unnerving, willingly allowing and watching this hollow needle sink into your arm, so tad bit of apprehension in the moment.

‘Sharp scratch’ and done.

Bit of tape to keep it in place and was left to my own devices which just included a couple games of shogi and a bit of snapchat.

An odd part of the experience I didn’t expect was feeling pulsing in the needle area, I assume being the heart beat pushing the blood through the needle at its regular intervals. Ended up being one of those things where once you’ve noticed it, it’s hard to not pay attention to.

10 mins pass and that’s that, needle removed, dressing is applied (the bandage kind) and directed to the snacks and drinks area. After a snack and water and about 5-10 min check to see that you’re not going to collapse on the spot and that is that.

Really simple, really quick, everything was done within an hour from start to finish and a couple of weeks later you get an email informing what there doing with your blood and your blood type. Blood donation done.


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