5 years ago, if someone would have told me i’d have been a regular blood donor i’d have said nah, not a chance. Petrified of needles to say the very least, the thought would have never crossed my mind. After a gone-wrong blood test while I was at school, and after having a Dad with a legitimate phobia, I’d come to accept that needles were always going to be one of those things that i’d never be okay with. However as I grew older, I also grew more accepting, and as more and more occasions arose in which I had to endure the dreaded needles, I also came to realize that actually, they weren’t as bad as I initially thought and the premature fears I had come to know slowly began to fade.
Anyone who has a sick or passed over relative is no stranger to the all too painful process of watching them suffer. When my Granddad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer 7 years ago it was a painstaking experience to say the very least, in a matter of months I watched him going from one of the most energetic and full of life people i’d ever known, to being drained and lacking the spirit and charisma that once had the power to light up the room. I was only young but I was also very aware, and noticed that my Granddad looked forward to blood transfusions as much as one does towards Christmas. Not entirely understanding why, it caught my interest – so being my inquisitive self I asked! The feeling, he said, was amazing to someone who was in as much pain as he was, the blood gave him a new found sense of life for a short while, which meant everything to him, and in turn, to us too as we had the old him back for a little while which was the most precious gift we ever could have asked for. I remember sitting in the hospital wards thinking about how we was given such an invaluable gift by such a complete stranger and to this day I will never forget the admiration I held for the kind person that donated their blood that helped give my Granddad so many more wonderful days with us. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but I will be forever grateful for the additional days we had with him because of the selfless actions of another, and the blood transfusion which allowed his spirit to shine through even the darkest of days.
I’ve come to understand that the world is unfair, but there are ways we can all make it better. When it came to my attention that my Nan also was in need of blood transfusions, it gave me the final push to do something I had thought about for many years but always failed to act upon – I was going to donate. Still wary of needles I cancelled my first appointment, however determined not to back down I booked in for my second and forced myself there. As I am a student in Liverpool, I use the Moorfields Donor Centre in which you can literally walk in and out (with no appointment) within 10 minutes with their express service. The staff were friendly and the setting was comfortable, after a short test and a background check I was ready to give blood. I won’t lie, I was nervous. I think anybody with a history of disliking needles would be, but I soon came to realise that I worried for nothing, and that after the initial process of the needle going in your arm, you feel nothing. For 10 minutes I sat there feeling admittedly proud of myself and also, I sat there thinking about my late Granddad, and my Nan, I thought about the stranger who was sat in a chair similar to me – and I wondered if they knew how impactful that their 10 minutes would be on another life. Not only does it improve the life of the receiver, but it also improves the lives of those close to them too. Seeing my Granddad full of life again gave me more happiness than you could ever know, and seeing the effect the transfusions have on my Nan gives me so much relief and thankfulness. 10 minutes of my time to dramatically improve the lives of countless people, it seems like a pretty good deal to me. After the process you are regularly checked on and looked after, there is always plenty to eat and drink and also plenty of other donors to sit and have a chat with while you rest for a short while. Then you walk out, and that’s it, you’re free to go on with your day and you don’t even notice the blood has gone. I literally could not believe it the first time I gave blood, walking out of the centre thinking: was that it? My thoughts turned to: why doesn’t everybody do this? Since, I have been trying to convince those close to me to become a blood donor as I cannot express the overwhelming sense of pride you get from knowing that you have potentially saved a life.
It warms me to know that, I am not alone in the ever on-going quest to find new donors, whilst scrolling through twitter a few weeks ago something caught my eye. It was called NSU Lend an Arm, upon further investigation I found that this was a campaign set up by a Northumbria student with the aim to encourage as many students as she could find to sign up as a donor. Her work has been nothing short of fantastic, entirely inspirational and something I wish I had the courage to do within my own University. Hattie, the founder of NSU Lend an Arm says “your 10 minutes sitting in a chair giving blood allows another 10 minutes more of their life” and I could not agree with her more. Northumbria students, I urge you to get yourself signed up for this I promise you that you will not regret it. NSU Lend an Arm can be found at @NSULendanarm, or you can click the highlighted text above and it will take you straight there!
If this post has inspired just one person to donate, then I will be overjoyed. The gift of life is invaluable and you have the utilities to give it. It’s selfless and it’s amazing and I know that it’s something you can all find the power to do.
Love from Jessie x