Having started donating blood back home in Leicester, I was really pleased when I got to Cardiff and realised how easy the process is here! There are regular mobile blood banks that come to the students union and up to the Heath campus, and it’s really convenient to sign up for an appointment and pop in during a lunch break. Giving blood is quick, simple and really safe, and you get rewarded with tea and biscuits at the end!
If you’ve never had the chance to donate before, I thought I’d explain quickly what it’s like, and why it’s so important.
Firstly, a few questions…
To start with, you get given some information to read about things you shouldn’t do after giving blood (vigorous exercise, flying a plane, operating machinery etc…), and then you have to answer some questions on an iPad. They have to check you haven’t been put at risk of certain infections so that it’s safe for you to donate, but also that it’s safe for other people to be given your blood.
A little finger prick
You then go into a little booth to get a single drop of blood taken, which is put in a solution to check your iron levels, again making sure you’re safe to donate. This is also an opportunity to talk through any concerns in private.
The big moment arrives
Once you’ve been thoroughly checked over, you get taken over to donate! They have special chairs now that tilt gradually to prevent any light-headedness afterwards, and the nurses are always lovely. The actual donation only takes about 5-10 minutes. They aim to take 465ml which is just under a pint, and they also test and type your blood to make sure everything is ok. I don’t think it hurts any more than having a flu jab!
This is pretty much what I go for – the biscuits are usually top quality (orange clubs are my favourite), and it’s nice to have a cuppa afterwards! If it’s your first time donating they might make you have a cold drink instead, but you’ll soon become a veteran and be on to the good stuff.
The Welsh Blood Service relies entirely on volunteer donations, and so many people are in need of blood transfusions every day. There’s a quote on the blood service’s website that says ‘no one truly understands the importance of donating blood until someone you know receives it’, and this is so true.
Kate and I gave up about 45 minutes today (with accidentally coordinating outfits), and as women are only allowed to donate three times a year, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t really a big time commitment! If you’re unsure I’d say go and talk through your concerns with any of the staff at your local donation centre as they’re more than happy to answer any questions, and there’s absolutely no pressure if you decide you don’t want to do it.
For more information, visit the Welsh Blood Service Website: https://www.welsh-blood.org.uk/how-can-i-help/university-groups/