In co-operation with the University of St Andrews Blood Donation Society a large NHS truck and a score of nurses turned Club 601 from a place usually associated with bops, Pablos, and uncomfortable gyrating into a highly professional centre of selflessness and chocolate biscuits.
The NHS in Scotland tries to maintain a stock of six days’ worth of each blood type. Blood cannot be stored for very long, therefore the NHS depends on a constant stream of donations coming in. The information booklets given out to all donors contained vital information which shocked many; such as the fact that blood is separated into components of red blood cells (which carry oxygen), platelets (which allows blood to clot), and plasma (which is used on critically ill patients to replace a large amount of proteins), rather than kept in the way it is donated. White blood cells are rarely used in transfusion. This means with every donation there is the potential to save three lives.
In medical procedures, safety is of utmost concern, and there are restrictions on giving blood. Lots of people are unable to give blood, including those who: have travelled to certain countries, had certain medical procedures, take some medications, are underweight, are pregnant, have gotten tattoos or piercing within the last 12 months, and (somewhat controversially) those who have within the last 12 months engaged in male-male sexual relations or have engaged sexually with anyone who has done so, even if protection was used.
The University of St Andrews Blood Donation Society organises two blood drives a year, in February and October, and according to one of the nurses this week they had a target of 160 donations each day; a target which they would easily meet judging by those who spent over an hour queuing.
Grania Smith, President of the Blood Donation Society, said, “I would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who comes out and donates, I know it can be quite daunting especially the first time around, but it’s definitely worth while and the blood you donate really can save someone’s life.”
She continued, “My own experience of giving blood for the first time did not go so smoothly. I was rather nervous and giggled with awkwardness when the needle was being put in, but a nurse talked to a couple of us all lying down on the beds throughout the donation. Not long after ten minutes in I was told that I had reached the minimum amount needed for a donation. As if my body knew that the job was done almost immediately felt faint and my right eye began twitching shut.
“My line was promptly removed, and three nurses were standing over me trying to cool me down. Eventually I was allowed to get up once they were confident I was okay and a nurse brought me a cup of water and a Tunnock’s teacake. As a rather reserved person who doesn’t like to make a fuss, this was rather embarrassing for me. But I have not been put off by the experience at all and will definitely do so again next year.”
At university there are countless charities trying to get their cause out there, but blood donation is one far more personal and intimate as you are giving over a part of yourself to save a life. Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, please spread the love and consider giving blood.