Every day in Scotland lives are saved by someone giving blood. However, people often are reluctant to give blood due to nerves or because they’re not really sure what the process involves.
So we’re here to try and put those nerves to rest as giving blood is a simple process and so important to do, if you’re well enough to do so.
One in four of us will need to receive blood at some stage in our lives. Don’t wait until it’s you or your friends or families relying on the kindness of strangers, make donating blood your New Year’s resolution.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I’M DONATING
Before you actually give blood, you’ll fill out a health check form which goes through your medical, travel and lifestyle history. It’s confidential and is in place to protect you and whoever receives your blood donation. A staff member will go over the health check form with you, to make sure you are eligible to donate.
There are a few rules which can affect whether you can donate blood and if you are unable to do so on this occasion then the staff will explain why. You’ll then be asked to read and sign the donor consent form to show you understand what’s involved in the process of giving blood.
Staff will then test a small drop of blood from your finger to check your blood iron levels and make sure they are high enough to donate blood. After this, you’ll be taken to a bed where you can lie back and relax during the donation.
A staff member will put a pressure cuff around your upper arm, clean your arm with antiseptic and insert the needle which leads to a blood bag that sits on an agitator scale beside you; it beeps now and again to inform the staff of your progress and will automatically stop when you’ve given enough.
Donating a full unit of blood usually only takes 5-15 minutes. During the donation the staff will be available to chat if you’re feeling nervous but you’re free to also bring something to read, use your phone or just daydream.
Afterwards you’ll be treated to a biscuit and some tea or juice to help raise your blood sugar levels and you will be asked to stick around for a few minutes to make sure you’re feeling okay and that’s it, off you go knowing you’ve potentially saved or improved the lives of up to three people.
SO HOW DOES ALL OF THAT SOUND? STILL A BIT NERVOUS OR SCARED OF THE PAIN?
Don’t worry, nerves are perfectly fine but truthfully the whole experience doesn’t hurt, you’ll feel a slight scratch usually during the finger prick when they are testing your blood and another scratch when the needle is inserted.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY DONATION?
Your blood donation will be split into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.
It’ll then be tested for viruses such as hepatitis and HIV and whilst it’s rare for a donation to test positive, you’ll be contacted and offered advice if anything shows up on the tests. After these tests, if everything is in order, your blood will be sent out for use across Scotland.
Blood has a shelf life of 35 days and fresh, frozen plasma can be kept for up to two years however platelets can only be used for up to five days. As your donation is such an important but perishable resource, you’re asked only to donate as and when stocks of your blood group are required.
Check current blood stocks across Scotland on scotblood.co.uk
I’D LIKE TO DONATE, WHERE SHOULD I GO?
If you would like to know more about what you could do to save a life then go to scotblood.co.uk to find your nearest centre.
You’ll also see why people donate blood and amazing stories about patients who have had transfusions and how thankful they are that someone gave a little bit of themselves to help someone in need.
A Note From Scot Blood ..
Meet 3 year old Ridley.
He has a condition called Hereditary Spherocytosis, meaning his blood cells are sphere shaped instead of the normal disc shape. His spleen destroys the cells, thinking they are faulty and this causes his blood count to drop to a level that requires blood transfusions.
He had his first blood transfusion at 10 days old and has been receiving them on a regular basis since. He’s been a little star throughout all his treatments and in July he was fitted with a Portacath. This will make things easier for him when receiving transfusions and blood tests. The condition has a 50/50 chance of being inherited and Ridley’s little brother Thorin, has the same condition although Ridley’s twin Yannick doesn’t.
Mum Emily said: “We’re all doing well. Yannik is still in perfect health, and Thorin hasn’t required any more blood transfusions. His blood count is generally good. Ridley is still transfusion dependent and has now had 17 blood transfusions to date but is still a happy wee boy!
“I really can’t thank blood donors enough. We owe everything to them and wish we could thank them all personally.”
This picture was taken last Christmas when Ridley got on with the routine of receiving his transfusion, whilst waiting for The Real Santa to arrive in a bigger suit and boots!
If you’re reading this article and it has given you food for thought, you can do something about it. If you are fit and well, you can help patients like Ridley and Thorin. Although there are some restrictions for donating blood, you are far more likely to be able to donate than not.
Please visit www.scotblood.co.uk and take our “Can I donate?” quiz to find out if you can donate or pop into our donor centre in Nelson Mandela Place. We offer both appointment and drop in facilities and more importantly, a warm welcome.