Blood Donation

Is it more honorable to donate blood than money? Is it more respectable to give part of your body over your salary?

As a mid-teenager I started organizing blood donations at my school. I wanted to held local hospitals in Hamburg and inspire young people to donate blood. I have always believed it is something very respectable to be willing to accept physical pain in order to help others. However, many refuse to do so because they claim they are scared of needles. I am as well. I might always be. When I was very young I had some awful experiences when blood was taken from me, but I decided to challenge myself, my fear and do good. I think it is very important to donate blood if you know you are very healthy, because it can save someone’s life!

So on the 23rd Oct. 2012 I went again, like every 4 months, to donate blood. This time it was part of my project and I decided to gain more insight into people’s motivation and experience of donating blood. Unfortunately the NHS did not allow me to hand out questionnaires so I had to rely on casual small talk. Chatting to a few seat neighbors, listening in to conversations and posing questions to nurses helped me to gather a lot of information.

Many people who donate are actually scared of needles. However they feel like doing something good and try to overcome their fear by donating anyway. Some just do not have enough money to give away so this is a reasonable alternative that makes them feel good about themselves. Looks like I am not the only one.

One of the nurses told me that she already had fully tattooed men who admitted to her that they have no problem with tattoo needles, however the one for blood donation scares them a lot. Afterwards, they feel very proud that they donated anyway.

It also turns out that gay men are basically not allowed to donate, unless they did not have sex for over 12 months (which is quite harsh isn’t it!?) I think it is a bit sexually discriminating that gay men, even if tested negative for HIV and always use protection, have to live up to these strict guidelines.

Overall, I learned a lot and I am very proud that I have overcome my own fear. I feel very proud of myself.

Just donate blood.
Take a deep breath and go!
Augen zu und durch!

Image1: (Hess, Anja, Blood Donation, Rye Lane Chapel, taken by Anja Hess, 23. Oct. 2012)
Image1: (Hess, Anja, Blood Donation, Rye Lane Chapel, taken by a nurse, 23. Oct. 2012)