Ethics: A Rush of Blood?

By Lucy Bywater

I recently reached a little milestone for which I unexpectedly received a certificate and pin badge in the post: I’d donated blood a total of ten times. The certificate is with the other stuff stuck to the fridge and to be honest I probably won’t be wearing the badge but I do feel the need to ‘pass it on’ as it was a regular blood-donating friend who easily persuaded me just three years ago that it was painless and quick to do. You never know when you might one day depend on someone else’s donation of blood. I wish I’d started years earlier and I haven’t knowingly yet ‘recruited’ any donors…

NHS Blood and Transplant need a regular supply of red cells, plasma and platelets to treat different conditions and to save lives. Pressure on supplies is huge and obviously varies but they need over 6,000 people to give blood every day. And some rare sub-types are more common in Black communities, which is why they need more blood donors from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

I give blood three times a year in Bedford. (Men can generally donate a little more often as women are more likely to end up lower in iron). I personally never look at the needle though I know some people are interested in the nitty gritty. I always take a book or something to listen to. It’s vital to drink plenty of water before and after, and to generally take it a little easy for the rest of the day, though for me cycling gently home has not been a problem. The whole process from start to finish takes less than an hour including a cuppa at the end.

If you’ve hesitated to sign up in the past, I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit squeamish myself (I once keeled over in Biology during the dissection of a bull’s eye), and I’m not particularly big. More importantly donating blood doesn’t hurt at all and might even be good for you too as it stimulates your body to replace the 470ml you’ve donated. What are you waiting for?

And yes there’s a good selection of free biscuits.

Every few weeks the ‘blood bus’ comes to Bedford, Kempston, Clapham, Wootton, Bromham. You can easily register and book an appointment to donate blood at https://www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 1232323.


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