As many of you will already know - and those that don't are about to -twice a year I do something amazing, and give blood. This small act, which doesn't take very long (it's the waiting to be checked that is the long bit) genuinely saves peoples lives, and I am proud to do it and would recommend anyone who possibly can, to do so. Even the gurney on which you lie (I'm not sure if it is a gurney, but it's very similar - especially in the fact that at least a third of me dangles over one end) is comfortable, with one end raised up to the perfect angle at which to fall asleep. In fact, it is so comfortable I could easily fall asleep whilst they take my blood.
In fact in fact I've just come up with a new form of assisted dying - you are made to sleep whilst you are giving blood, but they just keep taking it. When there is no blood left, you're dead. AND, you've helped save many other lives in the process. Genius, no?
Take that British Legal System! Another Nobel Peace Price for me? Why thank you.....
I give blood at the Crown Hotel in Blandford, when the lovely people from NHS blood and donation are in town. They've even got an old ice cream van with the "Give Blood" livery on it that drives around raising awareness. Or perhaps it has a more sinister function? Maybe it drives around the streets playing the soundtrack to "The Lost Boys" (but in the same tinkly notes as usual ice cream van tunes), and when curious children come up to it, hey presto! They're shoved in the back and a quick half pint of blood is taken. Then they are sent on their wobbly little way, and their parents put their wooziness down to too much spinning round and round. Or drugs.
Anyway, I like giving blood at the Crown Hotel (they do accommodation and food too apparently) - but one thing takes the edge off my overall enjoyment: no matter which gurney I end up being drained of blood on, I always end up with one of the ceiling spot lights shining right in my face.
I don't know if it is a deliberate ploy to make the donor uncomfortable or agitated (if agitated, the pulse would quicken, the heart beats faster, blood is donated faster, and more donors can be processed each day - just a theory, but........), but there's always a light in my face. It's like being interrogated - and to be honest, it doesn't take much to get me to spill my guts. Before you get to give blood you are asked to confirm your name and address (having confirmed it moments earlier when a sample of blood is taken to be checked) - I'm not sure why; I can't see the advantages of impersonating a blood donor. Maybe it's to make sure you are compus mentus, and don't sue the NHS later for taking blood when you were off your head, and didn't really want to. Whatever the reasons, it would be a small step to asking folk for their Pin number, bank account details, safe combination etc. and if you are lying there with a light in your face, feeling a little woozy from bloodloss, who is to say certain information wouldn't necessarily tumble out by accident?
Now, I'm not saying that identity theft is a concern every time you give blood, but it makes you think, doesn't it?
Well it makes me think.
What also makes me think is the blatantly obvious missed opportunity the NHS blood donation people have.....erm.....missed.
Inspite of the fact it is 2012, the NHS as a whole is still a bit rubbish. Waiting lists, superbugs running wild, and patients left on trolleys in corridors - so why not get the people waiting on trolleys to give blood?
And yes, I am aware that many people waiting for treatment/surgery on a trolley have illnesses, or other medical issues that would make them inelligible to give blood. But not all....so stick a needle in them and get a bit of blood that might save someone's life?
And while you are there, what about waiting rooms in A&E? Whenever you go to A&E you always have a long wait - three hours at least. Plenty of time to give blood.
Yes, the alcohol content of some donations might be a tad high - but they can filter it out, right?
Just trying to help.........