I was about 18 when I did it first – give blood that is. I’d been several times when my mother, or occasionally my father, had donated so it wasn’t entirely new. But I was working away from home – and went with my landlady.
I’d recommend that – going with someone else.
Almost the next time I went was when I was at university. My room-mate, together with two girls who shared another room down the corridor decided to go – and on the way took with us another friend. Made all five of us feel very virtuous!
In my 20s one of my aunts needed repeated blood transfusions, and I counted up how long it would take for just me to put enough blood into the ‘bank’ for her treatment. It helped make me realise how important an act regular giving is.
Recently they’ve reduced the period between donations – as they did during World War 2. It makes one think. They’ve also got a lot smarter at reminding one when it’s time to give again – not just letters and postcards, but also phonecalls.
Do I feel pestered? No not really. It’s simple to give. And it’s good to know there’s blood in the bank just in case…
But what does worry me is that there seem to be fewer young people giving. When I last gave, in January, I was one of the youngest there. That’s worrying. I’m over 50!
Are so few people able to give? That time at university only one of our group of five was able to – two didn’t weigh enough, one had had malaria, and another had only recently recovered from glandular fever.
Luckily that’s not typical. Of the five in our family, four out of five give regularly. And the fifth would if it wasn’t for long term medication. Why?
I think that one reason is that we took our children with us when they were young. And we talked about why it was important. It became an event – with free biscuits and squash!
There used to be stickers for children “My Mum gave blood today” and the like. But I’ve not seen them lately.
When someone from the National Blood Service phoned today (a reminder for my son) I asked about promotion. He remembered the stickers, but it sounds as though child protection and health and safety is becoming a barrier. Is this short-sighted? I fear so.
They write to 17 year olds, and to people passing their driving test. Would they respond better if they’d been with mum and dad as a child? And is this the best time to catch people?
I suggested another group to target: young parents. The trauma of birth over, giving blood could be a good way for new dads to say ‘thank you’ to the NHS. And a short year or so later mum could join the outing, with little one asleep in the pushchair…
So if this is their next recruitment drive, it might be due to me!