Yesterday I donated my fifth pint of blood, just over a year after my first pint. Despite having not donated at all during the first 28 years of my life, I’ve decided to become a regular donor, and I volunteered to take part in the Interval study earlier this year.
I’m lucky that I can give regularly; I work near to a donor centre and am able to get time off work for donations. There are only 24 centres in England and some cities like York don’t have them. And I’m also lucky to be relatively healthy and don’t have any medical conditions that prevent me from giving blood.
I have had one failed donation; when the needle was inserted it somehow missed a vein. That meant having to re-arrange for a new appointment a couple of weeks later, which thankfully went fine. I now give blood from my right arm, even though I’m right-handed, as I seem to have better veins there. This does mean that I can’t really use my right arm for a couple of hours afterwards, so my appointments are in afternoons, after work. The failed donation also shows on my record, so I’ve had my ‘5-9 donations’ card for a while even though at the time I had only donated four pints of blood.
Despite donating regularly, I still don’t like needles. I have learned how to cope with this and whilst it’s never a pleasant experience, once the needle is in and the blood starts flowing it doesn’t hurt. I have a similar coping mechanism for my annual ‘flu jabs. Sometimes I get a bruise on my arm as well.
I’ve also opted in to the Bone Marrow Registry, as this can be done at the same time as a donation.
At some point in future I may decide to donate platelets, which fewer people do. It’s a longer procedure, taking around 90 minutes, but can be done more frequently – as often as every two weeks in some cases. However, platelet donors can’t also give blood the regular way, so I wouldn’t be able to take part in the Interval study.
My next appointment is at the end of February, for pint number six.