Become a Blood Donor: What To Expect When Donating Blood

I’ve been a blood donor for quite some time now. I first wanted to get involved thanks to my experience of being part of Children of the 90s. Having always been poked, prodded and tested, I had no fear whatsoever of needles and thought it was only fair that someone like me should give blood if they can. I know some people are hella scared of needles and wouldn’t be able to brave it and there are others that are medically unable to give, so I feel like I’m doing it for those that can’t.

But mainly, I’m doing it for those in need. Whether it’s a cancer patient, a first-time mum or someone who’s been in an accident, there are so many people up and down the country each day in need of blood. The thought that me doing this small little thing could save someone’s life honestly makes me feel so emotional. I’ve put together this blog post to answer some key questions I get asked about giving blood. Hopefully this will give you a clearer picture of what it’s like to be a blood donor and also how to get involved!

A sneaky pic I took last time I was donating

How do I know if I can give blood?

There are some rules and regulations around who can give blood, so it’s always best to check on the blood donor website first. Also, every time you give, you’ll have a form to complete to ensure you are healthy enough to donate.

How do I prepare to give blood?

The advice is that you should eat and drink as normal, but ensure you have had a meal in the last few hours and you are fully hydrated. This will help stop you feeling faint after donating.

Where do I give blood?

There are donor centres all over the place. Sometimes these are permanent clinics but sometimes theses are temporary sessions that pop up in local community centres, halls and even churches.

What happens when I arrive to donate?

First thing you’ll need to do is complete a form – it’s mainly health-related questions and some lifestyle ones, like if you have travelled abroad recently. When you’re handed the form, you’ll also be given a donor welcome book which fully explains the process and gives you some helpful advice for before, during and after your donation. Once the admin is complete, you’ll be encouraged to help yourself to a drink while you wait to be called. The first nurse you will see will prick your finger to check your iron levels and then it’s time for the donation.

What does it feel like to give blood?

If you’ve ever had a blood test, the needle part is exactly the same as that – it does feel a little unpleasant when it goes in, but it’s really not that bad. Once the needle is safely inserted, the nurse will take a few sample pots and then you’ll be left alone to continue the rest of the donation. You have to open and close your hand to keep the blood flowing out and it only feels weird if you start thinking about it too much. I suggest having your phone in your other hand for a bit of distraction.

How long does it take to give blood?

This is a question I can’t really answer as it actually depends on your own personal blood flow to determine the speed of your donation. To give a guide, I’d say 5-10 mins.

What happens after I give blood?

Once the donation is complete, the machine will beep and a nurse will come to remove the needle. At this point you’re encouraged to relax and you’ll stay led back in the chair. Only when you feel okay will the nurse gradually raise you up and you’ll be ushered off to the tea and biscuit table for some instant gratification. There is no doubt that this is the best bit. You sit with a bourbon in hand feeling all warm and glowy about your very good deed. After giving blood you are okay to drive, but should avoid going to the gym, going in a sauna and drinking alcohol.

Why should I give blood?

Did I mention the biscuit table? They also sometimes have crisps if that helps… No, seriously, there really is no greater reward than doing something to help others. A week or so after donating, you’ll receive a text to tell you where your blood ended up and it’s the best feeling knowing that you could have saved someone’s life.

Where can I find out more about being a blood donor?

I hope this blog post helped – let me know if you’re considering becoming a donor!

R x

3 Replies to “Become a Blood Donor: What To Expect When Donating Blood”

    1. Awww yes I know needle phobias are so common! If it helps, the team are always so lovely and tell you to look away before inserting it but you would really be facing your fear big time. R x


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