Having a needle in your arm and feeling a bit weak and lightheaded is not the most comfortable way to spend your time. But knowing that you might be saving someone’s life makes it worth it.
I can’t really say when I decided I wanted to give blood. A friend here, a friend there talked about it or gave blood. It was somewhere at the back of my mind that was resurfacing now and again.
I did my first research how to get to it a few years ago. Sadly, I wasn’t eligible as a donor needs to weight more than 50 kg. So I let it go. Until now, that is. I am now an owner of a solid 50.5 kg body and to celebrate this fact I signed up as a donor.
The registration process is quite simple and doesn’t take much time. Choosing time and location in London does. Because you can’t go during working hours (here choosing a spot is easy peasy) because you’re going on holiday, because you have a BJJ competition or because you’re partying the whole weekend. So I scheduled my appointment 3 months ahead. And here it finally came.
The day before I got a friendly text with a link about how to prepare for the donation. On the day, just a reminder to eat well and drink plenty of water. It is not advisable to exercise on the day of your donation or even the day before.
Once you show up to your appointment you need to read through a welcoming brochure to get to know how the whole process works and what are the potential risks. It is also available online. In the waiting room, there are plenty of snacks and drinks to take care of while you’re waiting.
After they call your name you go with a very friendly nurse to an examination room to see if you’re eligible. So they stab your finger and squeeze a drop of blood out of it to conduct a simple blood test. If you pass the test you can go straight to the donation room.
It was a nice surprise to me how relaxed the atmosphere was. The doctors and nurses circled between the chairs, tubes, documents, and people. I climbed onto a dentist-like chair and sacrificed my arm on an armrest. The nurse measured my blood pressure again and instructed me on some minor exercises to do during the donation. I also needed to clench and open my fist to make the blood flow easier. They also recommend clenching and unclenching the buttocks to make it even more fun.
I absolutely cannot watch a needle in my arm so once the nurse got a hold of it I looked the other way. To further distract myself I put on a video on Youtube with some puppies, I’ll link it below. In total, I had a needle in my arm for about 15 minutes and I didn’t look at it once.
When the time came another nurse came to take the needle out and put the bag with my blood aside. I didn’t expect the bag to be so big! It was nearly a pint of blood, but still, I have never seen so much blood before, even if contained in a bag.
After the donation, they take you back to the waiting room and give more drinks and snacks and keep an eye on you if you feel bad. I drank a cup of water and after sitting for a few minutes I got going as I was already late to meet my friend.
We went to a nearby restaurant and I got a big burger to get some iron into my system because, you know, doctor’s orders. I also drank a liter of water to refill the fluids in my body.
In general, I felt fine, just got really tired in the tube and I was yawning every 5 minutes. I slept like a log, though. The next day was ok too, but I still felt tired and a bit lightheaded when I did a sudden movement. No BJJ training happen, but a lot of food and water did.
For a final touch, I just want to say that I am grateful that I have a healthy body and because of that I can help others in need. Accidents happen every day and every day someone needs blood. It could be me, it could be you, it could be someone you love. So if you’re eligible to give blood and want to spread some love and kindness, don’t hesitate, it is not a bad experience. And if you don’t feel like doing it alone, maybe we can go together next time!
Love you all,
Register as a donor: https://www.blood.co.uk/
Distract yourself during the donation with this video: