Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Spotlight on.... Blood Donation

I'm unable to donate blood myself due to needle phobia and a couple of other reasons, so I asked a friend to share her experience of recently giving blood. Hopefully her experience will answer any questions some of you may have about donating yourselves.

with thanks to Ms. N. F. Hetherington

"I'd got to the session early and there was already a queue outside, people kept telling me not to be nervous which I found quite silly as, although I know people who have a fear of needles, I've never understood it myself. When they started letting people in and it got to my turn the man at the desk just looked up expectantly. "Do I just give you my name?" 
    "Do you have an appointment?" He replied. The conversation then went that I'd been to a session before but that they hadn't allowed me to donate at that time and that I'd been sent a form to fill in with my donor number on it but forgotten to bring it. I was given a new form and told to fill it in and bring it back to another desk and have a large cold drink before donating. I sat down and realised I didn't know where to get a drink from and everyone was too busy to ask. I filled my form in and took it back and the woman [staff/ nurse] found me on the system, took my form off me and gave me a booklet to read before donating.        I found where the water was and read through the booklet which told me that I had to drink at least 500mls of fluid and that is they'd test my iron levels before donating (never an issue for me as even when pregnant I was always told how good my iron and B12 levels were but I was nervous all the same - hate the idea of ignorant people attributing bad levels to a plant-based diet). It wasn't long before she'd called on me and went through my form, I had to go through why I couldn't donate last time and she told me that I shouldn't have to mention it again. As I'd had a tattoo in the last 12 months I was asked the exact date and she [staff/ nurse] went to check if this was ok. Upon returning she said it was fine they'd just have to run an extra test on it.Then came the finger prick, she asked for my hand wiped my finger and pricked it and released a drop of blood into a plastic tube of blue liquid and watched it sink. I asked if that was good and she said the fact that it sunk meant I had good iron levels. I genuinely said, "Well that's good because I'm a vegan." I'm pretty sure it was verbal diarrhoea attributed to nerves. She then told me to take a seat round a table and wait to be called.     I was called up asked if I was right handed (I'm not) so was lead to one of the big plastic moulded with all the equipment on the right hand side. She reclined the seat and proceeded to search for a vein in my right arm. After a few unsuccessful attempts it was decided that my left would be better.    She [a nurse] found a vein and cleaned the spot on my arm and inserted the needle and it was all hooked up to what I can only describe as a reverse infusion pump. I was given a small tube to "twiddle" and she said clenching and unclenching my bum constantly would help my blood flow.   She checked I was ok and left me to it. I sat there for around ten minutes and the machine started beeping notifying the staff that I was 'done'. The same woman who hooked me up was available so she came to unattach everything and asked again if I was ok I reported numbness in my fingers and was assured that that was normal. She sat my seat up and told me to sit for a couple of minutes, sorted everything out and directed me to where I should have biscuits and a drink. Offered a choice of drinks I opted water and got my own Jammie Dodgers out of my bag, she told me that I hadn't had to bring my own and I said that I would rather have done so as I don't eat dairy etc. She said they had other options but I didn't read any packets so I don't know what they had. After a brief chat with the friend I'd come with we left to go home." 

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