Why Giving Blood and Being a Black Donor Matters
Here is what happens when you go to donate blood as a black donor.
Firstly, if you are not registered to give blood… go and do that here:https://www.blood.co.uk/the-donation-process/registering-online/
But what do I need in order to register to give blood, I hear you ask but don’t fret dear reader, I will break it all down for you, it’s a very simple process that will make a huge difference to many people’s health and lives. To become a blood donor (with the NHS of course,) all you need is…
- An online account which requires you to enter your email address and make a password (not too difficult please remember, this is an easy process.)
- Verify your email address through the link they will send you.
- Then you will be asked to enter further details about yourself such as Name title etc. If you have given blood before, you will have what is called a Blood donor ID, 9 characters in length but don’t worry if you either do not yet have one, can’t remember if you do or if you’ve lost it, you can still go forward with the registering process.
- Enter you ethnicity group (From the options listed.)
- Pop in your home number, mobile number and address (the first two required in order to contact you about appointments, and an address to point you in the direction of the nearest blood donation session to you,) and congratulations, you’re a registered donor!
Once you have completed all of this, you will be told where you’re closest location to donate is and when the next session will be. Blood donations are usually run every few months and the time slots vary. The nursing staff will aim to have your entire session from last less than an hour from start to finish. Now, let me tell you exactly what to expect when in an average blood donation session.
What to Expect
If you have already made an appointment over the phone ahead of the scheduled session, the week prior you should have received a form to fill out via post. Depending upon whether you are a first time donor or a returning donor, the form you get will be slightly different. The form will ask questions about the following, your sexual physical health, travel patterns, any body piercings or tattoos you may have and how long ago.
These screening questions are to ensure you are in relative good health in order to go forward (hopefully) with regular donation. Once you arrive at the actual appointment, you will hand in your sheet, be given a cup of water and directed to a seating area with some reading material about the importance of giving blood and what to expect afterwards e.g. no heavy lifting, what to do if (in rare instances) the bleeding hasn’t stopped after a certain amount of time. You will be asked to read this information thoroughly before proceeding further into the session.
Once your name is called by one of the nurses, you will be taken to cubicle where you will be asked to confirm answers given on your screening sheet. Then your middle finger on a chosen hand will be pricked and a drop of blood taken and tested for iron deficiency.
If all goes well, you be then be seated in a (very comfortable,) recliner chair and the blood donation process can begin. The area of your arm in which the needle is placed is swabbed thourougly before the needle is (gently and with precision,) inserted into a vein on an arm of your choosing and you are off to the races giving blood! (Hoozah!)
You will be asked to do some exercises while donating in order to help maintain your blood pressure e.g. balling up your fist for a few seconds, un-balling (lather rince and repeat.)
All in all the donation process (so long as you keep that blood pressure up!) will take about 15 minutes. Needle removed, small plaster to take its place and you’ll be away… for a snack (my favourite part,) where you will sit for as long or as little as you like before being able to go on your way and viola! Congratulations you donated blood for the first time!
It really is that simple and very rewarding to know you are contributing to your own community’s health. And after a few times of donation, you will receive a key ring with your blood type on so you can find out how rare (or common) your blood type is (we all secretly want to be the rarest), however all blood types are needed especially within the black community so please do not hesitate to register, find your nearest donation session and change black lives today! You never know when you or someone you love might also be in need of blood, all the more reason to donate ASAP!
The Terrifying Truths
Right now, we need more people from all minority backgrounds to register and donate blood and here is why it matters.
“There are racial and ethnic differences in blood type and composition. Your blood type is inherited in the same way as your eye and hair colour. That is why it is almost impossible to find a rare blood type that is needed to transfuse an Asian patient, for example, in a donor who is caucasian, and vice versa.”
The more people from minority backgrounds who donate, the more people from minority backgrounds suffering from disorders such as sickle cell are able to receive the blood type they need in order to live their lives as fully as possible. Despite making up 14% of the population, fewer than 5% of the ethnic minority population are donors, this is a huge issue as a large percentage of people who suffer from blood disorders such as Sickle Cell (90% in black British patients) and Thalassaemia are from ethnic minority backgrounds. 1% of those donors are from black backgrounds.
“It is estimated that 1,000 people in the UK have thalassaemia, and between 13,000-15,000 people in the UK have sickle cell disease.”
The NHS has a goal to register at least 40,000 more black donors, will you help by becoming one of them?
Please register to give blood today and help bring these shocking statistics down.
For more in depth information about blood donation within black communities and the effects of disorders such as Sickle Cell, click the link below.