Having sat waiting for the best part of an hour it would have been easy to have given up and gone home without donating but I had waited this long and anyway, this was my sixty-seventh donation so waiting a little longer wouldn’t hurt. I’ve been a blood donor since a few days after my eighteenth birthday. Originally going just to find out my blood group, I was soon going every few months. Although I have always been aware that the blood donated goes on to help others, the NHS Blood and Transplant Service (as it is now known) and its predecessors have always done a great job of educating the public of the value of blood, but to be honest to me it is background information to what has become a routine or habit.
Eventually, I was called forward the staff were apologetic for the delay and professional as ever. I signed the necessary forms and felt the stab of the ‘finger prick’ test. All good, not anaemic, so all ready to donate. I sat on a chair as the donor assistant prepared the bags and tubes that would receive my donation. As she stuck on the various hi-tech barcoded stickers, she also started to tie on a paper parcel tag, “An extra label for you”, she noted. I looked quizzically, intrigued by the comment and the antiquated paper label being tied to the sterile equipment. “Your blood is going to a neonatal unit for babies, look it says ‘neo’ on your donation form”. A warm feeling spread across me as the value of my blood suddenly became more real than any donation I had given before. Having briefly visited a neonatal Intensive care unit when my son was born I was struck by the potential this donation had to change the lives of young and old and to bring hope to those in despair.