Lie back and think of the life you might save


It’s world blood donors’ day.

I started giving blood when I was in the seventh form, and not just because it was an excuse to get out of class. Even then I understood it could save a life.

Eleven years later mine was one of the lives saved by someone else’s blood when the placenta gave way 34 weeks into my first pregnancy.

The next few years pregnancies and breast feeding precluded me from giving blood but I went back to donating after the last baby was weaned.

However, I can no longer be a donor because I was in Britain for several months in 1982 and there’s a risk I might have been exposed to mad cow disease.

I don’t remember eating much meat – my flat mates and I lived on variations on tinned tomatoes. But it’s possible I did eat beef in that time and I understand why health authorities don’t want to take any risks.

However, that ruling has cut the number of people who are willing and able to donate and there’s now a shortage of donors.

I can’t give blood, but I can give my word it doesn’t hurt when you do. There’s just a wee prick of the thumb for an initial test to ensure you’re not anaemic, then another wee prick as the needle goes into the vein then you lie back and think of the life you might be saving.

When it’s all over you’re offered a drink and a biscuit while you sit for a quarter hour or so then you’re free to go, a litre half a litre of blood lighter.

Please Give blood – I can’t


A friend encouraged me to become a blood donor when I was at high school and I continued more or less regularly for several years.

The day our daughter was born, a donation from someone else saved both our lives. The nurse who was setting up the transfusion mentioned AIDS then said – but don’t worry we only give blood from women to pregnant mothers. Ah yes, that seems most peculiar now but this was 1985 before blood was routinely screened.

Anyway, whoever gave the blood, it was fortuantely free from any infection because once I stopped breast feeding I became a donor again in between subsequent preganancies and feeding.

That all stopped several years ago though when anyone who had been in Britain for more than 6 months in the 1980s was precluded from being a donor for fear of transmitting Mad Cow Disease.

I don’t remember eating beef when I was in Briatin – we lived on tinned tomatoes becasue they were cheap – but regardless of that I can’t be a donor anymore.

Tomorrow is Blood Donor Day – I hope those who can will give because,  as the advertisement says the life you save might be your own.

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