First off, I am scared of needles. Why would I want to donate blood regularly I hear you ask? Well, my 10 minutes of fear is nothing comparable to the pain and suffering someone is going through with their illness or someone who has been in an accident and requires blood.
I started donating in University and since then I have racked up a total of 12 donations. The procedure is pretty simple. You have to sign a form and fill in a questionnaire asking you all sorts of questions about your health and lifestyle. It's nothing to worry about, it helps make sure that you're fit and healthy to donate and that the recipient of your blood is safe. A small prick of your finger to test your haemoglobin levels are high enough and you're good to go.
I prefer to donate with my left arm. It's a habit thing. I get those little butterflies in my stomach and the kind donor carers are always on hand to help and look after you. They tend not to leave your side and you get some good conversation from them. You have 15 minutes to donate 465ml of blood. It's just short of a pint of milk. If you don't finish the donation within 15 minutes, that's it. They'll stop it even if you're only 10ml away from the end. This is all for your safety.
We all judge pain differently and for me to say it's painless isn't really telling the truth. It's a small prick in the arm that lasts a few seconds then you don't really feel the rest of it until the end. To me, I'm used to it (although I still grip the side of my chair when the needle goes in).
Afterwards, you're led to a sitting area and given a cup of juice, tea or coffee and given a nice biscuit to get your sugar levels back up. In terms of bad experiences, I've never really had one. The donor carers are very friendly and the donation centre I frequent at are well equipped to deal with any issues you have. And remember, there is no pressure to donate there and then. If you don't feel well or change your mind, you are entitled to just walk away.
If you live in Scotland and are thinking about donating blood, check out their website here for more details. There you will find latest information on stock levels, where your nearest donation centre is and some amazing stories to watch and read.