Friday, January 30, 2015

Hi everyone! A bit of a different post today :)

On Thursday I donated blood for the New Zealand Blood Service with my friends Megan and Ellen and today I wanted to talk about what the experience was like. This was the first time that I had ever had a BIG needle stuck into my arm (apart from vaccinations of course) as I've never donated blood before and been fortunate enough to never have a blood test.

Megan organised for us to go and donate blood on her birthday- which I thought was awesome! The idea of saving someone's life by taking a few minutes out of your day to give blood really struck me. So we booked the appointments and there was no going back...

SIDENOTE: If you don't like hearing medical stories or seeing medical photos, feel free to check out some of my other posts...

The Process
So I donated blood at the Howick Library pop-up donation centre but there are a few others around Auckland as well. My friends and I made sure we had lots to eat and to drink before we went and then we headed off.

I was quite nervous for the whole procedure because I've only ever had vaccinations. I have quite a high pain tolerance but the idea of having a needle stuck in your arm for 5-10 minutes while blood is flowing out was quite uncomfortable- if someone has an intense blood nose, I will be gone very quickly :)

The first thing that they do is ask you lots of questions about your health, where you have been, any previous donations etc. to determine if you can give blood. Then they prick your finger to see if you iron levels are high enough and next your weight and height is compared to see how much blood they should take from you (it's different dependent on weight and height). You have to undergo quite a rigorous process before they actually let you give blood so if it's not safe for you to give blood, they will let you know and won't take any chances.

Next, you get put into a chair- similar to a dentists chair but less fancy and not automatic- which tilts forwards and backwards. They slip a compression pouch onto your upper arm and make you squeeze a red stress ball to try and see where your vein is. I was told I have very big veins so that makes it a bit easier :) Yay! Then the equipment comes out and they clean your arm.

The blood collection bag is placed on a machine which keeps track of how much blood is given and keeps the blood moving from side to side so it stays fluid. Now the dreaded part. I decided not to look because it will only make you focus on it more- instead I distracted myself by reading the information card and chatting to Ellen and Megan in the chairs beside me (sorry Ellen for squeezing the life out of your hand).
Of course it's a bit uncomfortable and thats because there is a needle being put into you arm but it's done so efficiently that you don't feel too much. The first 10 seconds are a bit weird because you can feel the needle but then you don't realise that it's there.

Your blood starts flowing through the tubes attached to the bag and with every squeeze of the red ball your bag fills up more. You don't have to squeeze the ball to make the blood come out but it speed up the process. After approximately 5 minutes your bag should be filled up and your machine will make a ringing noise so that you don't give more blood.

I found that trying to get the needle out (again i didn't look) hurt more than getting it in just because it wasn't coming out as easily however i wasn't in agonising pain or anything. Then you have to wait for approximately 5-7 minutes while you hold a little cloth on the spot where you blood was taken, to stop the bleeding. After the plaster is put on, you have to stay for 10 minutes which is fine because there is free biscuits and juice! Woo!

Once your blood is taken, it is kept refridgerated and they keep some samples of your blood to check in a lab for anything which may make the blood unsafe to use. In a few week i will get a letter with the test results and a donor card which will also tell me what blood type i have.
We got a super awesome notepad and a pen! Woo!

Thinking about donating blood?
Donating blood is super easy and it won't take very long.

A lot of schools organise days where students can donate blood so check with your school for the next available date. However, I organised it online- and it's pretty simple.

  • First you have to make an account. To do this go to, the NZ Blood website
  • Next check if your are eligible
  • If you are eligible to donate blood, then you can book an appointment at your nearest facility and you're good to go!
If you have any questions you can call 0800 GIVE BLOOD 24 hours a day.

Giving blood is an awesome feeling because your blood can be used to save 3 lives! I always think about how it would feel if you ever needed blood and you were told there wasn't enough!

Please consider donating blood because there are a lot of people who need it and not nearly enough people who give it.  This blog post was just to talk about what it's like to give blood and reassure you that it's not too bad :) Let me know if you have ever donated blood before?
I will definitely be doing it again!

Until next time,

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