Imagine if you could save three people’s lives by giving up just an hour of your time and one unit of blood. If you are blood donor, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Saving lives doesn’t require a dramatic act of courage or self-sacrifice; a simple blood donation can prove to be the difference between life and death for someone in need of blood.
Why is it, then, that only 10% of people who are eligible to give blood actually do so? Admittedly the thought of a needle being inserted into you and extracting a blood sample can seem frightening, but the process is quite harmless. Otherwise, medical professionals and organizations wouldn’t endorse it. That said, not everyone is advised to give blood, so if you are considering becoming a blood donor, it’s very important to check beforehand if there are certain criteria which would preclude you from donation. For instance, a woman who has either been pregnant or given birth within the previous 12 months should not donate blood.
In any event, when you go to make your first donation, you will be required to complete a questionnaire and you’ll likely be asked to give a sample of your blood so that it can be tested for levels of haemoglobin. Once these introductory phases are passed, you’ll then be brought to a bed and the area of your arm from which the donation is to be extracted will be cleaned with antiseptic. Then the needle is inserted (it’s quick and virtually painless) and the whole process takes no more than 15 minutes. After the donation, it’s important to take on board a light snack and refreshment, and to relax your body for the rest of the day.
This infographic from Union Quay Medical Centre in Ireland covers the blood donation process from beginning to end and also identifies who is and isn’t eligible to donate.
Thank you to Maria O’Driscoll and Union Quay Medical Centre for providing such rich information!