In this post, I will be writing about the importance of donating blood especially within the Black Community and drawing attention to Sickle Cell Awareness Day ( 19th June) and awareness month ( September) ! I have some fantastic viewpoints from Sickle Cell Advocates included in the post, who have kindly agreed to share their own personal experiences with the condition.
I recently donated blood last week Thursday at The Cathedral Hall ( Ambrosden Avenue- Near Victoria Station), in honor of Sickle Cell Awareness Day which was held yesterday! I thought it would be great to draw awareness and let you know more about the condition as well as what the process of donating blood is like, as many people may think, it something that is quite complicated to do. However, I am pleased to inform you, that it is in fact quite simple!
My Past Experiences of Donating Blood and More Information~
The first time I donated blood was back in December 2016. I remember seeing a tweet from @GiveBloodNHS stating that they were looking for donors, so I thought why not! The process of signing up was really simple.
I clicked the link on their twitter page, which then directed to me to their website. Once I reached their website, I was asked for my contact details and to make a login, which took around 5 minutes.
I was then directed to a page with medical guidelines, which are to be read in order to find out if you are a suitable blood donation candidate.
The next step was then to decide, when I was available to book an appointment ( I think I clicked the next day option on site), you then have to decide where you are happy to go for the said appointment ( I went to the West End Blood Donor Centre, which is just off Oxford Circus).
…and bobs your uncle! I was all set for the appointment.
You are advised to eat a well-balanced meal in order to keep you fit and healthy to donate blood. I believe that one of the main criteria is being registered with a GP so if you are, the whole process should be relatively quick and easy, as long as you meet their guidelines which are further explained on their site ( will be including the link at the end of post).
When you arrive for your appointment you are given a sheet to fill in which asks you basic information about your health and what you’ve been up to, for example, if you’ve traveled anywhere, if you have malaria, HIV, and further medical conditions which could hinder the possibility of donating.
You are then monitored and samples of your blood are taken to confirm whether you have the right level of iron in your blood and whether the blood is okay to be used in general. Once that is done, you are told to sit in a chair and the blood donation begins.
About 1 pint of blood is then collected from you. An adult has around 10 pints of blood in their body in total. You are then asked whilst the blood donation is in the process, to do some leg exercises in order to make sure that the blood flow is regular and you don’t cramp.
The whole process should normally take between 30 mins to an hour.
I’ve had a great experience on both occasions I have donated and found the whole process quick and efficient. After the blood donation, you are then given some sweet snacks to eat and told to rest for a bit before you can be off on your merry way. After the session, you are sent a letter to thank you for donating. Within the letter, you are also presented with a card which informs you what your blood type is. I found out my blood type was AB Positive which happens to be part of the rarest blood group, which I found really interesting.
I hope to continue to donate blood annually as I believe it is so important and relatively simple/easy to do. I also hope to encourage more young people to donate. In England, the focus is on a particular need for more young blood donors and more Black and Asian donors. You can start donating blood across the UK from age 17. But in 2015 only around 1 in 10 (11%)* of blood donors aged between 17 and 24 donated in England. This figure is steadily rising, however, more still needs to be done as younger donors are important to ensure blood donation for future generations.*
I also hope to encourage more Black African /Caribbean people to donate due to there still being a shortage of donors. Around 3.5% of the population in England is Black African or Black Caribbean, but in 2015 less than 1 in 100 (0.64%) *donors were from black communities. I, therefore, strive to do more in terms of encouraging my community to donate and hope that this post helps towards bringing some more awareness as it is super important to readdress the imbalance.
If you already donate blood regularly, then that is fantastic news! Please continue to be phenomenal !! If you have yet to donate this year, then please take this as a friendly reminder! 🙂
World Sickle Cell Awareness Day 19/06/2018 and month (September) + interviews with Sickle Cell Advocates~
World Sickle Cell Awareness Day was first held in 2008 and has been held annually since to help increase public knowledge and raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and bring about more awareness in terms of the struggles that sufferers and their families go through. Sickle Cell Disease happens to affect millions of people around the world . It also one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in various African countries.
Sickle Cell Disease (also known as Sickle Cell Anemia) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders affecting the production of hemoglobin. The abnormal hemoglobin genes are inherited from parents, who may be ‘carriers’ of the sickle cell gene or ‘trait’.
Hemoglobin is part of the red blood cell which carries oxygen around the body. It helps to keep vital organs working efficiently. However, those who suffer from Sickle Cell Disease, their Hemoglobin in inhabited and therefore, unfortunately, works abnormally. It is destroyed quickly, leading to conditions such as anemia. The red blood cells also sometimes become stiff and block up the blood vessels in the body. This causes pain and damage. Sickle cell disease can further cause acute pain in the body, swelling, and jaundice.
To get the best treatment, patients who suffer from Sickle Cell need blood which is closely matched. This is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity. People from black communities are also statistically more likely to have conditions such as Sickle Cell Disease. However, currently, only 1% of blood donors in England are black.** Therefore meaning that more Black Donors are required to come forward to help combat the issue.
To Round Up – Please make sure to sign up to Donate, if you get a chance! ~
Donating blood is something that can be done on a lunch break or early in the morning, at time and date that suits you best. In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 50kg and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be an Ideal candidate to donate blood.
I definitely encourage you to check out the NHS Blood and Transplant website (www.blood.co.uk) and/or call 0300 123 23 23 if you are interested in finding out more. There is also now the option of downloading the NHS Give Blood app, which helps in terms of convenience of appointment booking.
Donating is a quick and simple process which can go along way towards helping to save lives!
- If you do indeed sign up to donate, please let me know how it goes as I would love to find out how you found it and what your experience is like!
***Statistics from the Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report 2014/15 & (www.blood.co.uk)