Q: Does it hurt?
Not really. You'll feel a sharp scratch as they insert the needle into your arm, apart from that the process is relatively painless.
Q: How old do you have to be to donate?
You must be aged seventeen or over to donate blood. You can book in advance of your seventeenth birthday on their site providing you'll be seventeen on the date of donation
Q: What actually happens?
The process is relatively simple and it's really easy. I took a friend with me for my first time, I'd recommend this if you're a bit nervous! You'll be invited into the donation centre, you'll hand them your form which you receive in the post a week before donation and they'll get you to read an information booklet that informs you of all of the requirements to donate blood. They'll make sure that you understand everything. Then, you'll be sent into a small consultation area where you'll be asked to give a small sample of your blood to check haemoglobin levels etc. etc. (this doesn't hurt!). Then, you'll be asked to drink at least
500ml of water which they provide. You'll have time to drink this and relax before being asked to lie down in one of the chairs. They'll then find a vein, insert the needle and inform you of the exercises you should do whilst you're donating… (clenching fists, etc.) and then before you know it, you're finished! The best bit is the obligatory biscuits and crisps you'll have afterwards.
Q: OK, this sounds good. What would stop me from donating?
The NHS' guidelines are very specific about this. I can't detail everything because I'd be here forever. However, the NHS says: "Most people between the ages of 17 and 66 who weigh over 50kg (7st 12lb) and have a good level of general health will be able to donate blood.
Q: What happens to my blood?
Good question! Your blood will be tested afterwards just to make sure it's able to be used (you'll be informed within a few weeks if it cannot be). Then, it could be used in a variety of ways. Usually, treating blood cancers, aiding childbirth and even those in serious accidents requiring transfusion. (just a few of the uses)
Q: I want to know more, where can I get more information?
The Blood UK
website will give you all of the information you need. You can then book your donation there.