There are a few things in life that you can guarantee I will shout about from the rooftops. Caregiving is always right up there at the top and blood donation comes a very close second. For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge proponent of blood donation. I grew up watching my wonderful Mum donating as often as she could and knew that as soon as I turned 18, I would be going with her. We all know why blood donation matters. It saves the life of people going through chemotherapy who need additional support via blood products. It supports organ transplantation surgery. It can mean the difference between life and death for a person who has been in a serious road traffic accident, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how donated blood is used.
My blood donation story is not graphic or heroic. Thankfully, my need for two pints of A+ blood was not as a result of a traumatic injury or life-saving surgery, but as a result of Emma’s birth. It was a traumatic labour with an even more traumatic emergency c section. It took my doctor a long time to stop the bleeding, and by the time she did, I had lost a lot of blood. The morning I was admitted in labour, my haemoglobin was 12.1 and 24 hours later it was 6.9. It was suggested that I receive 2 units of blood to enable me to recover better from the trauma of the last 24 hours.
I must admit, I struggled with taking the blood. I knew that a transfusion would rule me out of ever being able to give blood in Ireland again and I felt that I just wasn’t unwell enough to warrant taking blood away from someone who badly needed it. Ultimately, I did receive the blood as my family and the doctor thought I was insane to refuse it.
Around 3% of the Irish population give blood annually. Many thousands of people are excluded from donating due to the fact that they have received a transfusion already or due to the fact that they lived in the United Kingdom during a certain period. I am now a member of these statistics and as a result, I can no longer help those who need it by donating blood. So instead, I spend my time promoting blood donation and why it is so important. My transfusion may not have been life-saving, but the generosity of two people allowed me to recover quicker and return home to look after my two babies in a fitter and healthier state.
Do you know the numbers behind blood donation?
This is the bit where I give you all the compelling reasons as to why you must donate blood as soon as possible and as often as possible. It may be an inconvenience to get out there and donate and it may be that you need to find a babysitter or take an afternoon off work, but I absolutely promise you that you will feel 100 times better for it and you will be saving someone’s life by doing it.
We must give blood frequently and consistently to prevent a blood shortage in the case of a disaster.
3% – the number of Irish people who donate blood annually. Based on our current population, that is about 147,500 out of 4.64 million.
3,000 – the number of donors that are needed every week in Ireland.
47% – the percentage of the population who are O+, the most common blood group in Ireland.
30 – the number of units that a car accident victim will potentially need.
7,000 – the number of transfusions that will take place in Ireland this year.
112.5 million – the number of blood donations collected globally each year. Approximately half of these donations take place in high-income countries, yet we only have 19% of the world’s population. This means that many millions of people do not have access to life-saving blood products.
65% – the percentage of transfusions that go to children under 5 years of age in low-income countries.
76% – the percentage of transfusions that are given to people over 65 in high-income countries.
4 – the number of people who you can help by donating just ONE unit of blood. Donations are often split into 4 different components of blood (red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets) so as to make the most of every donation.
Why Blood Donation Matters
Please get out there and give blood as soon as you can. Give it for me, because I can’t donate anymore. Give it as a thank you to the person who saved your mum’s life when she was going through chemotherapy. Give it for yourself who may need the favour returned in years to come. And then once you have done that, sing about it from the rooftops. Tell everyone you know that you are donating blood and you want them to do it too. Organise to rotate babysitting duties with friends so that you can all get a chance to go. It is better to go every 6 months than never at all.
If you are in the UK, you can find out more about the blood donation process and your local clinic here.
And finally, if you are in Cyprus, you can drop into your local general hospital Monday to Friday from 8:30 – 13:30 to donate blood. Just make sure to bring your ID with you.
I would really love to hear any donation stories that you may have. The more we talk about it, the more we can encourage people to donate.
All information in this post came from the following sources and is accurate at the time of publishing.