Why Giving Blood is so Important
Giving blood, if you’re a bit like me it’s probably something you’ve been ‘meaning to do’ for ages, but it hasn’t quite made it to the top of your to-do list. I have given blood before, but not recently. Did you know the only 3% of the population give blood – 3%! Personally, I think that’s a pretty shocking number. When it’s so important and often means the difference between life and death for people, for something people can so easily do.
If you read my blog last week, you will know that 9 days after Bodhi was born I suffered a ruptured stomach ulcer and haemorrhage. I was very ill and vomiting and passing volumes of blood whenever I went to the bathroom. As a consequence I ended up very anaemic, I was so pale I literally had no colour in my lips and couldn’t stand up without feeling faint or dizzy. My blood levels were 5.6 which meant I was at a level where I needed not one, but two blood transfusions.
It’s quite a humbling experience receiving someone else’s blood. Someone you have never met has donated something from their body which is making you well again. For me it meant I could stand and walk properly again, to be well enough to go home and be with my family. For other people it can be the difference between life and death.
How Easy is it to Give Blood?
Giving blood usually only takes 5-10 minutes and they usually have you in and out within an hour. There’s often biscuits involved too – how can you go wrong with biscuits? If you want to know more about what happens when you give blood, here’s a handy video from NHS Give Blood to explain just how easy it really is.
A lot of conditions that you weren’t previously allowed to give blood for you now can and some rules have changed. For example you used to have to wait 12 months after getting a tattoo, but now you only have to wait 4 months. So if you think you can’t give blood it is worth re-checking, you can do that here.
What it Means to People Who Receive It
I asked some people, who like me have received a blood transfusion or somebody in their family has and asked them what it means to them. This is what they said:
I’ve needed blood so many times – 4 lots of open heart surgery- a few pints each time. Last time was after I’d given birth I was severely anaemic and I needed 2 pints I feel incredibly grateful as without it I’d be dead many times over. I also feel incredibly guilty as my heart condition means I can’t give back.
When my daughter was on chemotherapy for leukaemia she had so many transfusions of blood and platelets. So many strangers made it possible for her to live and I will be forever grateful.
When I gave birth to my first child I haemorrhaged and needed 3 units of blood. Before they diagnosed that I needed enough for a transfusion it was horrid, every time I stood up I fainted for 3 days. Thankfully after some blood tests followed by a transfusion I was fine but it really impressed on me the importance of giving blood.
When I had my son my I had haemorrhage as my uterus wouldn’t contract. I needed a balloon inserted to compress it and 2 transfusions. It was a very scary and overwhelming time but I had an amazing surgeon and midwife and I feel very grateful. Having the blood transfusions was like the best energy drink I’d ever had! It literally felt like putting life back in my tired body.
When my dad was undergoing chemotherapy he would usually need at least one blood transfusion a week. He was really poorly, in the later stages of cancer and without the blood transfusions I doubt we’d have got the extra years with him that we managed to enjoy. Blood donation is so important, it saves families as well as lives and I’m grateful for every last drop my dad received.
I needed 3 units of blood after having my first baby. I always wanted to give blood myself but didn’t weigh enough before my pregnancy and obviously now I can’t due to the transfusion. Instead I have now joined with the Antony Nolan Trust as that way I am still registered to do something.
I also suffered a haemorrhage, after having my second baby. I lost 4.5 litres of blood in total and needed a transfusion, along with more surgery to stop the bleeding. I am forever grateful for those who give blood and I wish I could give back to those that need it.
People who give blood on a regular basis are heroes in my book. Before I had children I would arrange for the blood van to come to where I worked and it was always fully booked and I gave blood a couple of times a year. Since 2008 I have been having blood or blood products quarterly and it has become my lifeline. It is the reason that I am still here to enjoy life with my family. The irony is once you have had a blood transfusion you can never donate and we are the people that realise the importance of giving blood.
When my Mum gave birth to my brothers (twins) she needed some blood transfusions. Because of this (and the fact she’s tiny and pre-children was under the weight threshold), she’s never been able to give blood. Although she’s always wanted to. I once took her with me to give blood, and I couldn’t believe how proud she was. For her, the fact that me and my three brothers all go and give blood makes her feel like she’s contributed. I think it’s so important for our children to see giving blood as a normal activity, and when he’s old enough to understand, I’ll definitely be taking my little boy with me, in the hope he’ll choose to give blood too.
Please Give Blood
If you give blood, from me and all of the people above we thank you so much. Your donation means so much to all of us. Ironically, once you have received a blood transfusion you can no longer donate yourself, which is something that was made clear to me at the point of donation. It also makes me sad that I can’t give back what was given to me. Although family members have said they now will on my behalf.
If you haven’t given blood and can please consider doing so. NHS Give Blood, recently put on their Facebook page that stocks were low. At one point, they shared they have less than 3 days stock of some blood types. It’s so important. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could raise the figure from only 3% of the population donating to 10 or even 20%?
You can register to donate here.