This challenge was inspired by my mum, who is the kind of person who always considers the needs of others before her own and who was a regular blood donor when she was my age. Although donating blood has been something I have wanted to do for a long time, like a lot of things I had just never got round to it. Partly because of finding the time and partly through fear. My main concerns were that it would hurt and I might faint and/or throw up.
Of course, the fact that 96% of us rely on the other 4% to give blood was also enough to shame me into taking action.
The blood truck
Drain the blood
There were a lot of people waiting to donate when I arrived, more than I imagined there would be if I'm honest, and there was a quite an age range, which was really encouraging. As it was my first donation, I was asked a lot of questions about my health, before the nurse did the prick test to check if I was anaemic.
The drop of blood is added to a solution and they time how long it takes to sink. Mine just floated there, unwilling to play ball and the nurse said they would have to do a further test to determine whether I had sufficient iron levels to donate. My heart sank slightly. If I was low, I would have to abandon the challenge.
Thankfully, the test showed I had a higher than average score and we were good to go. I was ushered into the express queue to wait my turn. Dan told me later that at this point I had gone very pale - I think it was because I was so nervous about the task ahead.
I needn't have worried though, because the nurses were so reassuring and helpful, and once the needle had gone in I didn't feel anything. Also, as it was my first donation, they let Dan come and sit with me to help take my mind of it.
The guy in the bed next to me looks dead in this
picture, but don't panic I'm pretty sure he survived
The time went by really quickly and before I knew it the machine was bleeping to let me know I was done. And that was it, I had done it, with passing out or chucking up and I felt fine. In fact, I felt quite pleased with myself and proud that I had done something that might help someone else.
Once I had been unhooked, I was ushered over to the refreshments table for a drink and biscuits, so they could make sure I was ok. Just as I tucked into my third custard cream I felt my temperature rise really quickly and knew exactly what was going to happen next. My close friends refer to me as a flaker, because on odd occasions I like to add a little drama to situations by passing out. Usually somewhere really inconvenient like queuing to get into a festival site or right at the front of a gig.
Everything went black and seemed to move in slow motion, and I felt arms pulling me backwards. I came to with a cold towel on my head and a nurse fanning me. Apparently I started a bit of a domino rally, because right after I passed out a young woman followed my lead and did the same. The feeling passed as soon as it had come on though and the nurses were so quick to respond that I felt I was in good hands.
Adding a bit of drama to the situation
One of the nurses insisted I take loads
of biscuits and stickers home as a reward
My blood donation in numbers:
10 minutes 15 seconds - The time it took to drain a pint of blood from me. The machines beeps like you're in Super Mario World when it's done. Sadly I didn't get to ride home on Yoshi as a reward.
131 - My iron levels, the average is 115, but you need to be over 125 to donate.
2 hours - The time spent at the donation session, which was longer than normal because of...
10 seconds - The approximate length of time I was out of it following my dramatic fainting episode.
3 - The number of wounds I left with thanks to the prick test, anaemia test and blood donation.
4 - Number of months I now have to wait to donate again.
I was so pleased that I managed to get through this challenge and complete it successfully. It is such a nice feeling to think I may help to save someone else's life and I couldn't help wondering where my blood will go, who it might end up with and the reasons they might need it.
Despite the slightly embarrassing fainting episode, I will definitely do again. The donation didn't hurt and it wasn't unpleasant, so please do not be put off by my post-donation dramatics, because it doesn't happen to everyone and it passes so quickly. Besides, the knowledge that you've done something worthwhile far outweighs a minor bit of fainting.
Well of course I look rough,
I've just lost a pint of blood
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Verdict: A very proud WIN!!!!