Conversation at my office is wide-ranging. Of course, we talk about education systems and funding gaps and why the printer has a mind of its own and goes through phases of only printing on A3. But every day there’s usually a more off-beat conversation. Yesterday we discussed, at relative length, picnic blankets. There have been days involving discussions about dogs/dog cafés/whippet puppies. Today we started talking about giving blood.
I’ve given blood since I was 18, with a few enforced gaps due to overseas travel and a few gaps due to my own laziness. I’ve got certificates and pin badges from the National Blood Service for reaching particular milestones. I feel like it’s an important thing to do, that it’s an easy but life-saving act and I often wonder if people who don’t give would be happy to receive. No one else in my team appears to have given blood, ever.
I usually enjoy giving blood (you get to sit in a recliner reading a magazine and then eat crisps and biscuits), other than three occasions:
- When I was 19 I was quite thin and apparently this makes your veins small too. The nurse used a too-big needle and punched a hole right through my vein. Blood pooled in my elbow and I wasn’t allowed to use my arm for a week.
- One wintry Sunday morning, I was giving blood in a church hall. The heating was on but it hadn’t made much difference, so I was huddled under my coat with just my arm sticking out. I’d been gazing at the ceiling, but looked over at my blood bag to see the nurse holding it, warming her hands on it.
- It turns out that there’s a time window in which you have to get your blood out, and I once came near to the cut-off. The blood can’t be used if the donation isn’t complete so a gaggle of nurses surrounded me shouting “pump it!” at me.
Several of my friends have had to have blood transfusions and it’s saved their lives. It takes an hour, doesn’t hurt and you get snacks. If you can and you don’t already, you should.