World Blood Donation Day: Tips for donating

This is a sponsored post.

That’s a pretty bold statement isn’t it….but according to the World Health Organisation (WHO):

“Every day, about 800 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. “

One of the key causes of these maternal deaths is complications caused by severe loss of blood. Today is World Blood Donation Day and WHO, supported by Benenden, are promoting awareness of how donating blood could help to prevent some of these deaths. The 45 minutes that it takes for you to visit your local donation centre really can make a huge difference to a mother and her baby. We can all help to provide safe blood to save these mothers #GiveBlood…

There are many stories, like those of Siobhon Brookes, who needed blood during the birth of her son, and then her daughter four years later, which illustrate this starkly.

Personally, I have been a blood donor since the age of 18. There were no tragic circumstances that compelled me to give; just a father that had always done so. Now though, I give because I have met and loved many people who have needed that blood. The slight prick of the needle is worth the realisation that your blood could help to keep someone’s loved ones with them that bit longer.

There are, of course, perfectly legitimate reasons why some cannot give blood; and if you can’t, don’t feel disheartened, we can always encourage others to do so.

It is OK to be scared by the thought of giving blood; who likes a needle, right? We all remember Tony Hancock and his “armful of blood”…

However, there are a number of ways that you can prepare yourself to give blood both practically, and mentally, that help on donation day:

Get a good night’s kip

Try not to think too much about the next day’s events the night before, so that you can have a good night’s sleep. Sleep will help the donation go well, and you will feel less tired afterwards, as well as a wee bit less worried beforehand. Plan a nice meal in with a good movie *works for me*

Keep yourself busy

I always book a donation on a day when I am working – that way I have little time to think about what is actually happening, and before I know it, I have to be there and I haven’t worried about things once! According to a recent survey from Benenden, 3% said they didn’t give blood because they were too busy. Being busy actually helps me – but it is something that is worth making time for…it truly is. Booking an appointment in the UK cuts the time taken out of your day too; so why not book one over on; there is bound to be one near you soon.

Make sure you eat and drink well beforehand

This is important practically for the donation session, as well as helping you to relax. No-one likes to do something they are a little worried about on a empty stomach. However, don’t have gin *that’s bad*

Wear suitable clothes

If its hot weather, weather short sleeves, and if not, then don’t wear anything that will be too tight when you roll it up to give the nurses access to your arms. You don’t need to look a million dollars to give blood. No-one is watching, honest.

Take something to do

Distraction techniques work for 2-year olds, and they also work for someone who is nervous about stuff. When you are at the appointment, make sure you have something else to do other than drinking your pre-donation pint of water. Take a book, your iPod, or perhaps even a puzzle. Doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it takes your mind of things.

Don’t look

This could be just personal to me, but I don’t look at the blood I am donating, it is tempting to lean over and “see how you are getting on”…this can only lead to trouble as far as I am concerned. It is working fine, there is a beep if it isn’t, and a nurse will help you, so don’t panic. Think about something entirely different and it’ll be gone in a flash!

It isn’t a race

When you are actually donating, as long as you are slow and steady, it doesn’t matter if you take your time to donate. No-one is marking you on how fast you are…relax and it’ll happen. Try and beat the fella in the seat next to you, and it’ll all gone pear-shaped

Remember the specialist nurses have done it a thousand times before

When I donate, there are approximately five nurses all calming wandering about from donor to donor checking we are all OK, measure the speed of our donation, and generally being lovely. They are specialist blood donation nurses. There is nothing that they haven’t experienced, from fainting donors, to hysterics. Nothing will phase them, so be relaxed in the knowledge that you are in wonderful hands.

It IS all in the mind

I know that is a very simple statement for the fears that are associated with needles, and giving blood. I totally appreciate that for some, the fear is too much to bare. I can only tell you that having done it 15 times, there really, really isn’t anything to be scared of. You even get a bag of crisps and a drink afterwards. *not enough for some of course*

It really doesn’t hurt

My arms aren’t the easiest to find veins in, or so I am told. I always warn doctors about this before I have a blood test, or the donor nurses before they rummage about in my arm. This gives me the most kudos of anyone when I say that it really doesn’t hurt you, giving blood.

It may be “an armful” but it is really “harmful” *see what I did there?*

Hopefully I have expelled some of the myths associated with donation. A recent survey on blood donation from Benenden states that only 4% of people in the UK give blood, yet a single pint can help up to three people. This is an amazing statistic given than 25% of us will need blood at some point in our lives.

Sometimes we think that the little things we do to help our community can’t make a big difference. For example, why should I turn off the lights when I leave a room, is that really going to have an impact on the planet’s resources? I can understand the logic there, but we would do well to remember that every little action generates a big reaction.

Somehow blood donation seems different. It strikes me as one of the few things where a small amount of time, really does make a huge difference. If you do nothing else for World Blood Donation Day, why not register to give blood and give a mother somewhere the chance of life with their child.

Benenden Blood Donation Survey Infographic

Blood Donation Survey Results Infographic by benenden health

Photo Credit (header): World Health Organisation