No, the title of this post isn’t about Jo and I having a knife fight, nor even some sort of weird sexual shenanigans. Jo works for the wonderful people down at the National Blood Service and I was her first victim of the day.
I’d never been before. This wasn’t due to any particular fear of needles (although the thought of having a huge needle inserted into one of my tiny little veins doesn’t exactly seem much fun), nor because of a lack of desire to do my duty but more to do with not actually ever getting around to it. Yes, it’s that old procrastination issue again. I’m a bugger for it.
Jo was working at the main Donor Centre today and as I’m on a late shift I figured I should really, really do my best to get my lazy arse out of bed and give over 470ml of my precious O Positive. So, I did.
The experience wasn’t quite was I expected. I knew I had to be asked a number of highly personal questions during screening but it’s still a little embarrassing to be asked if I’ve ever “had sex with another man, either with or without protection”. Thankfully the only question I answered “yes” to was regarding travelling outside the UK within the last 12 months and I don’t think that Vancouver is too rife with tropical diseases in the middle of winter.
Anyway, the girls down there are all very lovely and the process was all professionally done. I passed the iron level test (no anaemia for me!) and was led into blood extraction room where I was laid on “bed” and prepared for my ordeal.
It really wasn’t that bad at all. Jo was the lead stabber, er vena-puncturer, and so she got to do the deed. “You’ll feel a sharp scratch,” she said, obviously being trained not to say “small prick”. It hardly hurt at all, in fact the blood sample taken for my iron test hurt more. The needle went in and the blood poured out of me at a healthy rate. It only took 5′ 34 seconds for the 470ml of life-blood to seep out of me.
My fingers felt a bit odd during the donation – kind of like pins and needles – but there was nothing about the whole thing to be even remotely worried about. I have no idea why I didn’t do it before!
Anyway, they’re always needing blood, so unless you’ve got good reasons not to donate (such as being a homosexual, drug-user, prostitute or suffering from some highly contagious disease) then I would urge you to head down to your nearest centre and give a little bit of your time for an essential service. You may just save a life.
On a related note – it’s disappointing to see that they prevent you from giving blood if you’re male and you’ve ever had oral or anal sex with another man, with or without protection. I suppose that the aim of that rule is a precaution to ensure that there are no HIV or AIDS anti-bodies in the donated blood but surely they should allow donations for people that have been tested subsequently or even for gay men in relationships that are known to be clear of those diseases?