I started giving blood when I was 18, having seen my mother donate for as long as I can remember. For me, the motto of “If you can, you should” is very important and I derive a deep sense of satisfaction from potentially saving lives and really making a difference. I actually find the experience enjoyable.
After filling in a health check questionnaire and drinking a pint of squash, they quickly test a drop of my blood for iron levels before I get to recline on a comfy chair and chat with the friendly nursing staff.
Afterwards, we have a choice of crisps, biscuits and chocolate bars, along with tea, squash or water. The whole procedure is done in a COVID-safe way. Then, a few weeks later, I receive a text to say where my blood has been sent to in the country. You’d be surprised how far the blood travels to be used in the best way possible.
World Blood Donor Day
Combining my 100th whole blood donation with World Blood Donor Day is very exciting. It is an event that happens annually, raising global awareness of the essential need for the voluntary donation of safe blood and blood products.
Governments and health authorities are encouraged to provide financing for the required infrastructure and systems, whilst the drive for new donors is ever present. The event is also an opportunity to thank all the unpaid donors worldwide.
The elephant in the room: needles!
Nobody wants to be jabbed with a needle. When I compare one needle four times a year (three times a year for women) with the amount of needles a child with Leukaemia or Sickle Cell Anaemia has to endure, I know I just need to ‘man up’ and do it.
In England, around two thirds of the blood is used to treat medical conditions including anaemia, cancer and blood disorders, with about a third being used in surgery and emergencies including childbirth. I know several mums whose lives have been saved by transfusions following childbirth.
Can you help?
Nearly 400 new donors a day are needed to meet demand with around 135,000 new donors needed each year to replace those who can no longer donate. In addition, 40,000 more black donors are required to meet a growing demand for the rare blood types that are more common in people of black heritage. Not everybody can give blood, but from the 14 June, the questions asked before giving blood are changing. This means that more people will be eligible to donate blood based on their health, travel and sexual behaviour.
If you want to find out more, please visit the NHS Blood Donation website. The experience of giving blood is quick and easy and you can book online or via the NHS Blood Donation app.
Whilst you’re there, please check out organ, tissue and stem cell donation and information about cord blood and plasma donation.
Giving blood costs nothing, takes very little time and most importantly, it saves lives.
Quick facts: blood donation by numbers
- 118.4 million - the number of blood donations collected worldwide
- 10 pints – the amount of blood in the average adult
- 42 days – the shelf life of red blood cells
- 10–15 mins – the time it takes to donate blood
- 84 days – the minimum necessary waiting period (for men) between whole blood donations, 112 for women
Comment by Dan Bignell posted on
Great blog. I immediately signed up for blood donation after this and am slightly ashamed of not doing it sooner. I also don't know my blood type but I know my horoscope - there is a disconnect there which needs addressing.
Good stuff, well done.
Comment by Christina posted on
Blood donor eligibility rules have just now changed too, to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive, just in time for Pride month.
Their updated tool can help you check if you can give before you go along https://bit.ly/3vitI5R
Comment by Jeff posted on
Thanks Charlie, a great reminder of why we should donate - I'm nowhere near your number having started quite late but doing it is a small thing that makes a difference. And recent changes mean gay and bisexual men can do it too without some of the restrictions previously involved: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55296525
Comment by Paula posted on
Congratulations Charlie, on reaching your 100th donation and the blog. I was also inspired to give blood from 18, in my case by my Dad but I had to stop donating at 32. My husband still gives and it's great that donors now get to hear where their blood has gone. I always found donating a really rewarding and straightforward way to help others. It's great to see that you have already inspired a new donor. Give yourself a pat on the back Dan. It would be lovely to see even more signing up which helps to replace the donors who can no longer give.
Comment by John posted on
Comment by Martin Graves posted on
Well done Charlie - welcome to the 100 club ! Although im a platelet donor, so I cheat slightly!
Comment by David Turner posted on
Great amount , I started at 18 and just given my 99th donation today so will of just turned 49 when I reach 100 milestone in march 2022 when I quit)
Comment by Richard Jenkins posted on
I'm 69 and will hit 99 donations in a couple of weeks. I started at 18 but work commitments and a lot of foreign travel for work (with associated nasty vaccines) has slowed donation rate. I was thinking of stopping at 100 then thought, why? It's not a big ask, so I'll carry on as long as they want me to. My question to you, why stop?
Comment by David Turner posted on
I stopped because I find it’s getting harder to donate , keep getting cancelled on nurses do a great job under more pressure and I thought 100 was a good milestone to finish on , plus my last donation was my worst one had a massive bruise down my arm - cursed it I guess .
But good luck for carrying on after 100 )