I vaant to saave a liife.
Giving blood is one of the all-time greats of do-gooding but it seems somehow neglected, somehow unfashionable. Perhaps the offer of free tea and biscuits no longer packs them into town halls and health centres the way it once did. Frumpy image aside, it’s one of the best things we can do: Literally giving a bit of ourselves to a stranger, helping people we’ll never meet, never knowing what good we might have done. Maybe saving a life. Maybe a bunch of lives.
Donated blood is for more than just topping up bodies that have leaked during accidents. The National Blood Service says although they do use it for blood loss, obvs, it’s more often separated into individual components: red cells are used in the treatment of anaemia and to replace lost red cells after childbirth, surgery or accidents (such as the loss of a toe, knee, hand or cock); platelets are used in cases of bone marrow failure, post-transplant treatments, chemotherapy and treatments for leukaemia; plasma is used for cardiac surgery, starships and to replace clotting factors; processed plasma is used to treat haemophilia, tetanus, hepatitis, chickenpox and rabies; the albumin in plasma is beneficial for burns victims. And blood donors don’t just save lives; they can improve the lives of people who can’t be saved: A blood transfusion can give a better quality of life to a terminally ill person in their final months. It is, we’re agreed, one of the all-time greats.
And yet we don’t bother with it much. Blood stock levels forever seem to be lower than they should be, complicated somewhat by a short shelf life. Donor services are keen on regular, reliable donors they can count on to give a few times a year, leaving us with a fairly simple choice: We can save lives or not bother. Lucky for them we’re among the world’s best people.
Not everyone can give, of course. In the UK you have to be over 17 years old, weigh more than 50kg, be free from colds, coughs and cold sores, be unpregnant, off antibiotics, and free from the obvious stuff like HIV and hepatitis. (Full disclosure: I’m banned for life). To run through the requirements, find your nearest clinic or book a workplace session you should visit NHS England, NHS Scotland, the Welsh Blood Service or the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service depending on how English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish you are. In Americee you can give via the American Red Cross. And elsewhere in the world you can use your preferred search engine because I can’t be arsed finding 195 different links for you.
Then go give blood, feel smug and get a cup of tea and a biscuit. Nothing fancy, mind; we’re talking rich teas or digestives here. It’s more about the good deed than the reward, although you might get a custard cream if you’re lucky. I’d say anything above a Jammie Dodger is out.
People will get to live
And you'll get a biscuit!
Photo credit: The Zero
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