A couple of years ago I went to give blood for the very first time. I was incredibly nervous as I’ve got a record of passing out on planes, going woozy when really tired and just generally being a bit light-headed. I’m not scared of needles but I am scared of the public humiliation of collapsing in a room full of strangers and the strong chance of being sick afterwards…you stay classy now.
But with the support of a friend I took the plunge into the world of giving blood and I haven’t looked back since. I didn’t pass out, I wasn’t ill and in all honesty it didn’t even hurt one bit – I was amazed and I felt on top of the world knowing I’d done something of real worth with that hour of my life.
Donation be that of blood, organs or bone marrow isn’t something bloggers and youtubers usually talk about – it’s far from your standard lipstick swatch review or morning chai seed smoothie – but it’s something that I personally feel should be spoken about a lot more often, especially from social influencers like us. So today I wanted to tell you my story, not to preach or shame but to help raise awareness of just how powerful you and your body can be and just how many lives could be saved by putting your name on the list.
BEING A BLOOD DONOR
I filmed a video on what it’s like to be a blood donor around about a year ago which got a lovely response from people watching and even support from the blood service themselves. It’s scary giving blood when you haven’t been before – fear of needles or not – but the feeling you get afterwards is worth it’s weight in gold, not to mention the lives of the three people you’ve saved every time. It’s so easy to become a blood donor and apart from a little waiting around if they’re running behind (take your book with you) it’s been absolutely fine and I’m on donation number 5 now – check me out.
Being a blood donor is something I pride myself on and although it took me around 24 years to make my first trip I’m so glad I did – if you’re thinking about giving blood for the first time then fire any questions at me on instagram @xameliax, i’m more than happy to help!
BEING AN ORGAN DONOR
After losing my driving licence in a bar a few years back – an incredibly annoying process but luckily one that’s rather easy to fix – I was asked if I would like to be put on the organ donors register when I signed up for my new identity card. Shocked I wasn’t already on there I of course said yes. Did you know that each day, about 77 people receive organ transplants. However, about 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs? When I first read that statistic I was gob smacked. Of course organ donation is everyone’s personal decision and right – they’re your organs, you can decide what to do with them – but religious beliefs aside I’m just not sure why someone wouldn’t be on the list. Yes it’s a little squeamish but were you planning to use your healthy organs after you’ve gone? Would you put all your money in the fire or ground with you and burn it or let it rot? Or would you leave it behind so family, friends and charities can benefit after you’re gone? Is it really any different to your healthy organs? Food for thought.
Knowing you can help save multiple lives (up to 50!) by being a donor, to help someone see again with an eye transplant (yes, we can actually do those now) or to help a dad caught in the wrong place at the wrong time in a car accident get home to his wife and children just by putting your name on a list is an incredible feeling.
BEING A BONE MARROW DONOR
The last time I went to give blood I signed myself up to the Bone Marrow register too – I’m collecting donor cards like pokemon here people! This was the register that took me the longest to sign up for and I did a lot of research before saying yes. When I found out that a bone marrow donation is the one thing standing in between millions of men, women and children living a long healthy life it took me aback. Imagine living in limbo with a disease you didn’t ask for, feeling helpless and just waiting for a match knowing that’s all it takes for you to get better – it’s something I can’t imagine. Bone marrow is a tricky one to match so finding someone who fits is damn near impossible especially when there’s currently over 7,000 patients looking for a suitable bone marrow donor and a shortage of donors on the list.
A lot of people (myself included) have been put off this one due to images of giant needles going into spines, local anaesthetics and the supposed excruciating pain. It’s a little different to just putting your name down on an organ donation list ‘just in case’ anything happens to you, or from taking an hour out of your day to lie on a bed followed by a cup of tea and a biscuit. It wasn’t until I looked into everything a little further that I realised medicine and technology has seriously advanced and it turns out bone marrow donation isn’t too bad after all.
If you’re on the list and a match to someone in need you’ll be asked to come in to hospital or a nearby clinic and will be given 4 days of injections to increase your blood stem cell count in order to donate it. Once raised a peripheral blood stem cell donation will be done where blood is taken from one arm, run though a cell separator machine to remove the stem cells and put back into your body in the other arm. While it sounds like something from a scfi movie the most you’ll feel a little numbness and slightly uncomfortable as you sit there for the 5 hours during the donation – bring two books for this one! – and a few little pinches from the injections in the run up! You may get a bit of a cold during or after treatment but unless there’s a national Lemsip drought you’ll be a-ok.
You may never get called up for bone marrow donation or it might happen days after you put your name on the list – either way for me this was the big one as I didn’t want to say yes to something I couldn’t realistically go through with. Discovering the incredible charity Post Pals was what prompted me to research further – what’s a cold and a couple of hours off work worth in exchange for giving a child with leukemia a chance at getting their life back?
We often think of blood being used to help those who have been in horrible accidents, car crashes, attacks, surgeries – the things we see on tv. But in reality your blood is just as likely to help cancer patients get through their treatments and live on, or even for childbirth – something women do every single day that fortunately these days is for the most part par for the course. By giving blood, putting your name on the organ donor list or signing up for bone marrow donation you’re doing some of the most powerful things you can do as a human – you’re saving lives.
Think you’re too old or not sure if you CAN give blood?
Check the exclusion list HERE…you’ll probably be surprised.
This blog I’m sure will divide opinion. It’s something I’ve been wanting to write for a while but i’m aware that donation is a delicate subject with so many belief systems and moral thoughts on the matter. It’s not my intention to lecture or guilt anyone into doing anything they’re uncomfortable with, but if by putting my thoughts and experiences out there online I inspire just one of you who hadn’t got round to doing it yet or maybe hadn’t even thought about it then we’ve hit the jackpot.
Would you take blood, bone marrow or even an organ if you needed it?
If yes then please do take a moment to think about where it’s coming from and consider signing up too.
Read more about Blood Donation HERE
Read more about Organ Donation HERE
Read more about Bone Marrow Donation HERE
Are you on the list?
Tweet me @xameliax or leave a comment below and please share this post to spread the word with as many as you can! #onthelist