Spotlight on getting round to giving blood

Guardian reporter Hayley Gallimore giving blood at Kiverton Park and Wales Village Hall. Hayley is pictured with Tom Smith G130525-3b
Guardian reporter Hayley Gallimore giving blood at Kiverton Park and Wales Village Hall. Hayley is pictured with Tom Smith G130525-3b

My heart was pounding faster than usual - a good thing, I thought, as it meant I was still alive, writes Dinnington Guardian reporter Hayley Gallimore.

Unsure if my heightened pulse was down to nerves or excitement I turned up at Kiveton Park and Wales Village Hall to the Give Blood session.

It’s something I had been meaning to do for a long time, but never got round to.

When I told friends, family and colleagues that I was donating for the first time, many said the same.

Only four per cent of people eligible to give blood actually do so. It’s shocking really, considering how quick, easy and painless I found it.

And each 470ml blood donation (just under a pint) has the potential to save up to three people’s lives.

You just need to be generally fit and healthy, aged 17 - 65 and weigh more than 7 stone 12 lbs to donate.

Some people might not be eligible because of recent infections, medical tests, foreign travel, piercings, tattoos, dental work, antibiotics or cardiovascular conditions.

But you will be asked about these beforehand, like I was, to ensure you are safe to donate.

I was immediately put at ease by the friendly nurses who guided me through the process, starting with a finger prick to check my iron level.

Then I was shown to a (very comfortable) reclining chair and given some muscle-squeezing exercises to do, to increase my circulation.

A slight pin prick was all I felt when the drain went in. And less than five minutes later I was all finished.

Having my obligatory drink and a biscuit afterwards, I spoke to other donors who told me why they were there.

“One of my friends has just given birth and needed blood. If she hadn’t had it, she might be dead,” said first time donor Philippa Widdows, 28.

Sarah Vaughan, 38, said: “I used to come when my mum donated. Now I’ve done it 23 times. It’s something I felt I needed to do to help people.”

To register to give blood, ask questions and find out when the next session near you is, visit www.blood.co.uk

It doesn’t hurt.