Stories of Your World Blood Donors on World Blood Donor Day

By Aimee Hughes . 14/06/2024 · 7 Minute read

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What motivated you to become a blood donor?

K: I saw my mum doing it when I was a child, and I thought it was just what you do. When I saw an event to register as a blood donor when I was older, I signed up. For me, it’s sitting in a chair for a few minutes, but for the person receiving the blood - it could mean saving their life. From this perspective, it feels like a no-brainer.

A: My dad used to donate and so when I was able to, I decided to give blood also.

S: My mum is a donor who has donated over 25 times. She has a blood donation certificate at home that she keeps by the TV. So, it's there to remind you when you watch TV, staring at you in the face!

M: My mum had an operation when I was younger, and it resulted in her needing a blood transfusion. Because of this, she is unfortunately unable to give blood herself. I donate to help someone else if they need a blood transfusion, just as she did.

SK: Initially, I started giving blood because my best friend had Leukemia. They had to have a lot of blood transfusions, which helped me understand the importance of blood donation. My blood is CMV negative, which only 15% of the population have. I have now donated 20 times!

AH: I became a blood donor because my nan had blood cancer and had to have blood transfusions. My grandad was also a blood donor as he had CMW negative blood and gave it as much as he was able to. It's a priority for me because of his example and the impact of other blood donors on my family. 

Can you share a memorable experience from one of your blood donation sessions?

K: Nothing too memorable as it's quite routine. The healthcare professionals running the event are extremely experienced and ensure everything runs smoothly as much as possible. 

A: I was giving blood and next to someone donating for the first time. They were a little nervous, so I started a conversation and told them the best part was the biscuit and juice you get afterwards! They laughed, and I sat with them while they gave blood. We enjoyed a chat—with a biscuit afterwards, of course!

S: After the first Covid lockdown, NHSBT asked people about donating platelets. I booked the appointment and went. It turns out I wasn’t suitable for this, and they asked me to donate blood anyway, which I did! 

M: The snacks! You not only receive tea and biscuits, but they also provide cereal bars, chocolate, juice, and more.

SK: NHSBT use CMV negative blood, like mine, to help neonatal babies. This greatly motivated me to donate as often as I can as such a small percentage of people have it. I donate because it gives the babies the best chance of survival. 

AH: In my first session, I found out that my blood type is O negative which means my blood can be used for anyone.After my initial donation, I discovered that my blood is utilised by First Responders, who are crucial to emergency services. This made the experience even more meaningful to me.

How do you prepare yourself before donating blood, and do you have any rituals or practices you follow?

K: I make sure I’ve eaten a proper meal and have drank a lot of water. I always do the little exercises they suggest when you’re in the chair – like squeezing your hand (and your bum). I also treat myself to a little chocolate bar afterwards!

A: I do make sure that I’m hydrated beforehand as it’s easier for them to find your vein.

S: I always make sure I have a substantial meal and plenty of water before donating.

M: Drink plenty of water and try not to panic – It isn’t scary or painful!

SK: Squeeze your hand while giving blood to keep your blood pressure up. This way, you're less likely to feel faint afterwards.

AH: I make sure I try and move the parts of my body I can as this is the main advice the blood donation professionals tell you!

In your view, what are the common misconceptions about blood donation, and how do you address them?

K: That you feel incredibly weak afterwards, and that you lose a significant amount of blood. It’s really not that much! Although you might feel a little tired afterwards, you can carry on with your usual daily activities as normal. Or that it will really hurt – it doesn’t!

A: A misconception is that it's going to take a long time - it truly doesn’t. It only takes up to 15 minutes.

S: I only hear good things about blood donation!

M: Some people don’t consider how important it can be. One day, you or someone you know may be in a situation where you need to receive a blood transfusion. It could save a life!

SK: I think needle phobia stops people from donating but giving blood is so important. Never as scary as you think!

AH: A common misconception is that it takes up too much time - your first donation will be your longest as they have to test your blood. After that, they fly by!

What message would you like to share with someone who is hesitant about donating blood for the first time?

K: It’s so worth it. After you donate, you get a notification letting you know where the blood you donated has gone to. My last donation went to West Middlesex University Hospital. Getting that notification and knowing that someone is alive because you donated is a truly great feeling. 

 A: Just do it! I unfortunately, can’t donate anymore as I had a couple of blood transfusions to save my own life. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people donating their blood to save others!

 S: Donate Blood, Save Lives – You may need it one day.  

M: Give it a go! You have nothing to lose. It isn’t painful and it only lasts about 10 minutes, if you are uncomfortable throughout the process, you can stop.

SK: Anyone who is healthy should 100% donate, anyone could need a transfusion at the end of the day!

AH: As someone who has seen first-hand how crucial blood donation is, I would urge everyone to at least find out more about it. It's something so small that could have a lasting impact. 

Click here for more information on blood donation!

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