Saturday, 4 October 2014

The red stuff

I have probably harped on about this before but I think it is something that is worth a little mention every now and again, just in a vain attempt to put something in someone's brain.

This is a post about giving blood and how awesome it is, and how important it is and how I genuinely find it difficult to accept people's totally lame excuses for not doing it.

I first went to give blood when I was at uni in Manchester. And I couldn't even tell you why I went. There was a drop in centre in town and I just decided to go along, mainly because I was feeling nosy about what blood type I was.

My first donation did not go well. The blood basically just stopped coming out of my veins. I was asked to clench and unclench my fist, I thought happy thoughts, I did everything but my body gave up half a pint and then decided that was it. I was told that it was probably enough for them to run their tests and type my blood and I should come again next time and just see what happened.

I've never looked back.

I've had a couple of breaks - one when I was on Warfarin for my embolism - but I've mostly kept up a steady appearance meaning that today I donated my 19th pint of blood.

(I did think about waiting until I'd donated my 20th pint for this post but I just couldn't wait that long I'm afraid.)

Once I was settled in Tiny Town I got myself set up again to start going regularly and decided to take selfies each time I donated to document my little journey. I was so mad that I never thought of doing it before, how flippin' cool would it be to have a whole lifetime of giving blood selfies?

Really cool is the answer.


I find it really sad that when I go I am quite often one of the youngest people there in whatever local sports hall I'm attending. The majority of people there to donate seem to be in the 40s-50s bracket and I very very rarely see someone who looks like they could be 17, the age at which are you are allowed to donate. 

When I talk about it at work and ask if other people donate the answer is always a resounding no and when I ask people why I'm greeted by a wall of awkward silence. 

The awkward silence is there because there just aren't many good reasons for not giving blood. I feel like I am, on the whole, a fairly reasonable person. But this is a subject that makes me absolutely lose my mind, because I just simply cannot understand why, if you are fit and healthy and don't have a complete massive phobia of needles, you don't donate.

It takes so little time. It is virtually painless (I'm not going to say totally painless because, you know, it's a needle in your arm) and you are saving lives. Seriously. You are saving lives. Every time you donate a pint of blood that is used to save a life - it either goes to help someone who is near death, or a small percentage may go to a lab for scientists to undertake tests which help further research, which, guess what? Saves lives.

Why on earth would you turn down the opportunity to feel that good?

We're not talking about running into burning buildings to save children. This doesn't endanger your life at all and you can feel so so good about yourself.

It is even more important to give blood because there are so many people who can't. Seriously the restrictions are hefty. They have to be when you're putting blood in other peoples' bodies I guess. The CJD crisis saw more restrictions put in place which means that now, every time blood is used to save someone's life, that means there is one more person who isn't able to donate. 

Kind of ironic really.

I know that you're busy and I know that you have other things that you could do with your time. I know that you think that loads of people give blood so what does it matter if you don't. I know that it seems like a hassle to make the effort to ring up to make an appointment. I know that it feels a bit icky and gross to be in a room full of people who are having blood taken out of them.

But you still have to do it.


Because you are actually saving lives. People would die if there wasn't blood there for them. You know Heather? She wouldn't be here if people didn't donate blood. She lost so much blood when she was having Tiny Tin Bird that she had to have a transfusion. My Mum wouldn't be alive either. She lost so much blood during her radical hysterectomy that she had to have a transfusion. If people didn't go and give blood that's just two people who simply would not be here.

Stop and think about that for just a second. Just one, small second.

And then tell me how you can have any excuse not to go?

(Also you get free biscuits when you go. You have to sit down and eat biscuits before they'll allow you to leave. I mean, why would you not go?)


For more information on Giving Blood, including the ability to make appointments online as well as more amazing stories about the lives that have been saved, you just need to click here.

Here's an idea - Find out where your next and nearest session is and take some people with you? Get together in a little group - take a mate, take a couple of mates, get your work colleagues together and go and donate and then go out for dinner afterwards (although no alcohol, yeah?) . What better excuse to have a massive burger/pizza/curry/[insert favourite food] than that you've just given blood and need to "keep your blood sugar up."?


  1. While I 100% support giving blood and commend you for doing it and think more people should, I'm afraid you're wrong about there not being many reasons to not give blood. There's quite a long list of restrictions. Gay men who've had sex in the last year, anyone who's had a tattoo recently, anyone who's been to certain parts of the world recently (or had sex with someone from certain parts of the world), not to mention all the various illnesses they don't like donors to have. I'll admit when I was young I was glad that getting a tattoo and then going to Egypt gave me an excuse because I wasn't a fan of needles, but when I was diagnosed with lupus I was really mad that it meant I couldn't give blood because I'd realised it was something I really wanted to do.

    But thank you for evangelising because I too know people who wouldn't be alive without blood transfusions and I am so grateful that people like you keep on giving.

    1. Sorry, I think in my overzealousness to publish I probably didn't explain myself. The very fact that there are so many reasons that people can't give blood is what makes it so important that if you can you DO give blood.

      Some of my breaks have been down to getting tattoos although thankfully the restrictions have been lifted slightly and you only need to wait 4 months before donating. And now as long as your acupuncture has been performed by an NHS practitioner there aren't any restrictions on donating.

  2. Love this post - I've given almost as many donations as you and it's something I'm really passionate about. I get annoyed if I have a cold or something near my donation date and have to cancel the appointment! It annoys me too when people make excuses for why they can't do it - if your medical history means you can't, I understand (and you don't have to explain why) but if you're healthy, go! Would you accept a blood transfusion if you needed it? Yes? Then I really feel you should be willing to donate, too! I've also found that in my donation sessions most people seem to be 40+ - where are all the younger people?!

    And the biscuits are great - tea and biscuits as a reward for spending 10mins lying on a bed? That's fine with me. Saving a life? Brilliant!

    1. Yes I'm the same about getting frustrated about not being able to go. I was supposed to go earlier in September but was in France and nearly drove myself demented trying to find somewhere I could go to donate! In the end I had to borrow my sister's car to get to my appointment on Friday!

  3. Keep harping on. I think part of the reason younger people don't go is because there *isn't* someone telling them, or proving to them, just how important and live-saving it is. When people don't feel the guilt for not doing something that as you say, doesn't ask for much from you and can give such essential aid to someone else, they just don't think to do it. I suppose younger people may be less likely to also because they may be less likely to have experienced the direct effect on a friend or relative and in general it's not on their radar; they don't know anyone else who does give blood so it just doesn't even cross their mind to do or not do so. The more conversations filled with awkward silences, the better, I suppose. Hopefully it makes more people think twice.

    1. I'm definitely harping on at the people I work with. I'm hoping a slight amount of peer pressure and the suggestion of us all going out for dinner might persuade at least a couple of them. I find it ridiculous that out of 8 people who are perfectly able to give blood just in my tiny department there's only me who does it.

  4. I agree! I started randomly in my 30's and other than a break because of visiting Kenya and Zanzibar and one time when iron level where too low (damn you lady business!) I've been going ever since.
    I got my bronze medal for 10 donations during the 2012 Olympics and it felt so damn patriotic!
    It is an excellent thing to do, and where else can you be praised for sitting down for a bit followed by tea and biscuits?
    Selfies from no.1 would've been awesome!

    1. Oh my god I remember getting my bronze award - best day EVER.

      My only very slight criticism is that the awards are so far apart. I've got to wait until 25 to get my silver and it just feels so so far away. I wish it was 20 and then I'd get one next time I go!

  5. Totally with you on this! The first time I donated was only about a year ago. And they gave me two penguins when I went! :D Now, I'm not a stupid, oblivious person but somehow I just hadn't really considered doing it. No, in fact that's wrong, I had considered it but hadn't done enough about it. Which I imagine others might experience.

    Having said all that, I'm not sure what it's like in other places but in Bristol, it's not easy to get an appointment. They used to have a blood mobile a few streets over from where I work but due to funding, they got rid of it! They also cancelled some appointments I made and the only nearby place (I don't drive) has appointments between 10-12:30 and 2:00-3:45, and not until December now. I'd probably have to take a morning or afternoon off to make one of those appointments. I'm not saying it's impossible or not a worthwhile cause (I would take an afternoon or morning off to do it!) but it's not the easiest thing to do. And it's more that it frustrates me because I really want to donate!

    p.s. I have O Rh- so my blood is the shit! I know it's not a competition but hey, if it was, that blood group would probs win. Just saying. OK, I'm being a knob now. GIVE BLOOD! :D

    1. Totally totally agree. I am super restricted now I don't live in a big city and it does wind me up. I ended up having to borrow a car to be able to get to my appointment on Friday. But if I hadn't been able to do that, I wouldn't have been able to donate for another month and those extra months really start to add up.

      Don't understand how a city as big as Bristol doesn't have more convenient appointments. Or at least sessions that run until 7.30pm. Of course people aren't going to go if it means taking time off work.

      Oh man you really ARE the shizz! Come ON DOWN UNIVERSAL DONOR! I am super mega boring common O-Positive.

  6. Couldn't agree more - no reason why anyone healthy shouldn't at least go and give it a go. I started donating as an 18yr old student nurse - with the exception of breaks for kids have been going ever since. Think I'm up to about 43 now ๐Ÿ˜Š which makes me feel ancient... But I have seen the value so many times over the years & could be any of us that need that gift one day. Only problem is these days I seem to have to top up my iron intake in between! We should all encourage others, I'm always slightly shocked by the short supplies they have available in blood banks.

    1. 43?! I'm so jealous! I'm absolutely desperate to get my silver award but I have a couple of years to wait, it makes me so impatient!

  7. I only started when I was 21. And I've had a few times where I've not been allowed to donate due to iron levels or ongoing medical investigations (which sound much more fun than their unsuccessful and inconclusive reality), but I do try to go as much as possible. I want a piercing but I am waiting until after Wednesday so that I don't have to change my blood appointment. I get the Fear every time I go as I hate it so much - the needle thing scares me but once it's in my arm I'm totally fine, although I quite often feel faint (which is more a state of being in general life than anything to do with the blood, I shoiuld think, as I feel fainty most days!)

  8. I starting donating blood as soon as I hit 18 and did so until I had to have 5 blood transfusions after my eldest daughter was born. I miss being able to donate as I really do know how important it is and I say a big THANK YOU to everyone who takes time out of their day to do it.

  9. I nearly fainted last time I did it and they had to put screens round me like I was a racehorse :( The shame!

    On a plus point, it was full of young people. The session was at a hotel right next to a big call centre and loads of the staff there had clearly come out on their lunch break to do it.


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