For #Blogtober I invited my family to write a guest post for me and Sofia kindly obliged on her post about why she does not believe in luck. This month for #Blogmas I have managed to persuade my Dad to write about his experience of being a blood donor.
My Dad has the rarest blood group. He inherited this from his Mum. Neither my brother nor I inherited this, as we both have the most common blood group. I always felt that having a rare blood group meant that you were incredibly exotic and I used to feel that I had somehow missed out on this. However, when my son was born in 2000, having the most common blood group meant that when I needed to have a blood transfusion after his birth, I was able to do so with ease. My Dad has given blood regularly since 1964, which is a monumental fifty-four years and he was recently awarded a very prestigious award for reaching his 75th milestone. He tells me that he is frequently informed of where his blood has gone and he has certainly saved many lives by doing this relatively simple deed. I managed to persuade him to write about his very first experience of giving blood.
Recently I received a certificate from the Blood and Transplant Group regarding my 75th donation of blood. I think seventy-five pints of blood equates to just over nine bodies. It is difficult for me to remember all my donations but I can clearly recall the very first time I gave blood.
Back in 1964 and aged eighteen, I was an electrical apprentice at John Players: most often known simply as Player’s, which was a tobacco and cigarette manufacturer based in Nottingham. My boss, known as Big Dennis came and informed me that the blood people were coming to the factory and he had put my name down as a donor. He cruelly laughed at me as he said this. You didn’t argue with Big Dennis so I had no choice but to reluctantly agree.
The electricians’ mate, who worked with me, was far more sympathetic and told me that at least we would get half an hour off work. Evidently, he could sense my anxiety and he tried to reassure me by stating that he had donated many times and it was not such a big deal. However, during the two weeks leading up to the event, Big Denis kindly seized every opportunity he could to make my already fragile nerves even more shattered. He took great pleasure in mocking me mercilessly. He claimed I would be scarred for life and the pain would last for months. He really knew how to fill me with confidence!
Fortunately when the day finally arrived, I found the whole process incredibly easy and not at all painful. The kind nurse knew that this was my first time giving blood. and she allowed me to lie down on a bed for fifteen minutes afterwards with a hot cup of tea and a biscuit. I glanced over and noticed that Big Denis was lying down in the bed next to me, but rather unusually for him, he looked slightly pale and withdrawn; not the Big brash Denis we were used to. Within a short space of time, I was ready to return to work. I stood up and said somewhat over-confidently, ‘Is it time to get back to work then, Denis?” Big Denis seemed reluctant to get up. He finally rose but as he did so he immediately collapsed and fainted back onto the bed. I glanced across to see the nurse laughing at the irony of seeing such a larger than life character so vulnerable and unable to cope,
“I don’t know! “ she remarked, “Sometimes people wind themselves up so much with anxiety prior to the day, that when they finally see the blood, they just can’t cope!” That day was doubly important for me, since as well as being my first experience of giving blood, it was also the last time Big Denis ever teased me!