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Donating blood: it's not as scary as you think

Donating blood is something that everyone should do at least once.

400 new donors a day are needed to meet their demand, and from personal experience, it really isn't as scary as you think. Here, we will go over the process of donating blood, myths and concerns to put your mind at rest:

Many students will not even think to donate because no one is talking about it and it is an unnerving thought, especially if you don't like needles. But the nurses, accommodating and kind, are there to guide you through the life-saving process of donating blood.

What happens when you give blood?

You will initially be screened for health issues—which involves a questionnaire and a quick sample of blood taken by a pin-prick from your finger. After this, it's time to give blood. You lie down on a reclining chair and you are allowed to listen to music through the process. The worst part is when the needle goes in your arm, but you can barely feel it. The tiny pinch of pain is nothing compared to the rewarding feeling of helping someone recover from an injury or life-threatening illness. There is food and drink available all the time, including squash and water, and sugary foods to keep your blood sugar levels up.

What happens after you've given blood?

Afterwards, the nurse will take you to the snack table to take a break before you can go. It's very normal to feel dizzy at this stage, but it goes away quickly. You are recommended to abstain from heavy exercise and drink lots of water for the rest of the day.

Can they take too much blood?

One thing that I was scared about when I first gave blood was that they would forget about me and drain too much blood. However, there is a timer hooked up to you and it immediately cuts off when they have taken enough blood from your arm, making it virtually impossible for this to happen.

Does it hurt?

Another is that the experience is very painful. The worst pain you will experience is the prick of a needle and a bit of soreness after, but this is absolutely tolerable and much less painful than stubbing your toe.

Does giving blood affect your health?

I also had the idea that my health would somehow deteriorate after donating blood. It was something to do with the amount of blood loss that I thought could not be healthy for me. The truth of the matter is, there are no detrimental effects on your health. If you are healthy enough to give blood, you can easily form new blood afterwards and you will be absolutely fine.

Can you give blood if you're on your period?

Some girls think that giving blood will affect their periods somehow, however, this is not the case. The blood that you lose during your period is not affected by the blood you donate and so there will be no effect here. Your period will not lighten or get heavier after donating blood, nor will it be brought on earlier or delayed.

On that note, girls can think they can't donate on their period. You definitely can do and there is no restriction against it, but if on the day you are experiencing an especially heavy or nasty period, it may be best for you to reschedule out of personal comfort.

Can you donate blood if you drink or smoke?

You also can donate blood if you smoke, drink and have tattoos and piercings, as long as the tattoos and piercings were done over four months ago.

The only main reasons that you absolutely cannot donate blood permanently is if you have HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis B, Syphilis or if you have been injected with drugs, even if it was one time or a long time ago.

Donating blood is a rewarding experience that can save up to three lives in one session. To read more about the donation process or to sign up, click here.

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