I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sat at my desk at work, on Dewsbury Road, when my mobile phone rang. It was my Mum and she was on her way to hospital with my Dad in the back of an Ambulance. There was a lot to take in. He had been ill for some time, but it seemed that the cocktail of prescribed medicines he was taking were no longer working.
I left work and drove the two and a half hours to Milton Keynes in silence. Seeing my dad lying on what could have been his deathbed was a very sobering experience. I felt like a child, completely lost and not knowing what to do. I needed to help, but other than being a comfort to my mum I was helpless. That was when I decided to give blood for the first time. I didn’t know if he would need a transfusion, I didn’t even know if we were the same blood group but I needed to do something.
I was nervous the first time I went to donate. All I knew about giving blood was the infamous Tony Hancock sketch. The staff at the Blood Donor Centre on The Headrow, were clearly used to dealing with newbies like me. They talked me through the experience from the finger prick iron test, right through to the actual donation. I was only on the couch for 7 minutes before they had the precious blood that they were after.
I won’t lie. I was surprised by the size of the needle that they used. I was expecting something similar to a hypodermic syringe. When I finally plucked up the courage to look I saw something similar to a larding needle sticking out of my arm.
For the cost of a few minutes discomfort, I had done something incredible. I had potentially helped to save my dad’s life, somebody’s dad, their mum, their sister. The staff at Milton Keynes General Hospital worked their magic and dad was discharged, but with a sentence hanging over him. He was given between a year and five years to live, such are the vagaries of cancer.
He actually kept going for 3 years before finally succumbing to cancer in 2008. I kept giving blood during that time and have continued to do so ever since. In 2010 my son was born prematurely and needed a transfusion. Knowing that somebody helped us has spurred me on to keep donating blood.
This week is National Blood Week and Friday 14th June is World Blood Donor Day as well as being the birthday of Nobel Prize winner Dr Karl Landsteiner who discovered the ABO blood grouping system. If you are thinking about donating for the first time, or if it’s been a while since your last session, there is no better time than now to give blood, you could end up saving somebody’s life.
This article was written by Ewan Mitchell using our Community Reporters website