Here is Something Life-Saving You Can Do: Give Blood!

May 31st, 2020

We are thinking a lot about health, about life and death, these days in the time of COVID-19.

But, as the German writer Goethe said,

Blut ist ein ganz besondrer Saft. [Blood is a very special juice].

It is remarkable in many ways.

Jamaicans are, in general, very squeamish about giving blood. Many are afraid of needles. Others think that if they give a pint of blood, they will lose their strength, fade away, get sick. Some people think you can never get that blood back. And perhaps most of all, people wonder if it’s safe to give blood.

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So let’s see if we can address these fears:

I don’t particularly like needles, but when I lived in the UK I gave blood hundreds of times. I just got used to it. The fact is, it doesn’t hurt! Not in the least. When you see people smiling at the camera while giving blood, it is not because they are just putting a brave face on it; it’s because they are not feeling any discomfort.

Blood restores itself in a very short time. So, as soon as you have filled that thick, squishy bag with that marvelous deep red stuff, it is busy making back what you have given away. Blood regenerates itself in a matter of hours.Drink lots of fluids for the next day or two afterwards, and you will have some fresh, new blood circulating in your body! A fascinating thought.

If you do, by any chance, feel a bit faint, you can lie down for a few minutes afterwards. Eat a cookie and drink some water. It’s a good idea to eat something three hours before donating. Stay hydrated. And do not smoke at least 72 hours beforehand. (Yes, smoke goes straight into your blood – and affects all your organs, but that’s a story for another day!)

It is very safe to give blood. You will go through some check-ups before donating – for example, your blood pressure will be checked and you will have a haemoglobin test to make sure your “blood count” is high enough. New, sterile needles are always used and these are discarded after use, so you cannot possibly “catch” anything.

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It only takes ten to fifteen minutes to give blood.

There are four types of blood: O (O Positive is the most common), A, B and AB. Like other physical traits, it is passed on from your parents. My blood type is A Positive – it’s good to know your blood type. There are some very rare types. If you have one of those, it is as important for a potential recipient as it is for the blood bank.

You can also donate platelets. These are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. If you are in good health, you can give blood every three months.

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Cornwall Regional Hospital Blood Bank opening hours are Mon-Thurs 8:30 am – 3:30 pm; Fridays 8:30 am – 2:30 pm.

Every day, blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, victims of crime (sadly), heart surgery patients, and cancer patients. Also, it will help any COVID-19 patients who may be in need.

I am quite sure – I think I can safely say – that someone is lying in hospital right now (or on the operating table) who is badly in need of blood. It’s so easy to help them. Your one donation can actually help several people, for example, platelets for a child with leukemia or red cells to help an accident victim.

Who knows: I might need some of your blood one day. Or your grandmother, or your best friend. Or – you might need some yourself.

Blood is precious. It’s a precious gift that we can give. And it doesn’t cost anything.

I have shamelessly lifted some of this information from the National Blood Transfusion Service website. They are also on Facebook and on Twitter @1bloodbankja

Kudos to that very cool young doctor, Phillip Coombs, for holding two blood drives. I hope the turnout was good!

Kudos to that very cool young doctor, Phillip Coombs, for holding two blood drives. I hope the turnout was good! The first ever “social distancing blood drive”!

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