I decided my New Year Resolution for this year would be to give blood. Although I have always had a fear of needles I based the decision on the fact I was told by my Mum that I may have a rare blood type.
It still took me a few months into 2016 to log onto the blood donation site and register. My two colleagues, Lisa and Jade decided they would also like to give blood for the first time, so we booked our appointments so we could attend together.
Our appointments were booked for 18th July 2016 - the hottest day of the year so far!
We felt very comfortable when we arrived at the Town Hall and we handed over our completed registration forms we had received in the post a couple of weeks previous.
We were told to drink 500ml of juice/water before we were called for our private health screening. We were taken individually for the private health screening; here I was asked some further questions in relation to the registration form. I had a small amount of blood taken from my finger to check that I had enough iron in my blood to be able to donate. The nurse then tested which arm would be best to use for the donation. Once this was complete I was asked for a final time 'are you happy to give blood?'
At this point, I was very nervous and was taken to the chair were I would make my first blood donation.
The nurse explained the procedure and I was told to keep moving my legs and my hands to help increase blood flow.
The donation was over in approximately 5 minutes and I didn't feel a thing! I had successfully donated blood for the first time.
I was gently eased up straight and was told when I was ready, to go across the room and help myself to a drink and biscuits. This is where I met Lisa and Jade again.
This is when we were told that only 4% of the population who are able to, actually give blood and in particular, people aged between 17 and 45 are least likely to give blood. 50% of blood donated is used to treat cancer patients.
Before we left we made our next appointment for 4 months time.
On the Friday of that week, I received a text message - 'Thank you so much for donating on 18th July. Your donation has just been issued to University Hospital of Durham. Every donation counts.'
This made me proud knowing that my blood was successfully donated to somebody else and could have potentially saved a life.
The following week I received a letter to confirm my blood group. The letter stated that my blood group was 'O negative' which makes me particularly important because only 7% of the population have this blood type.
I decided to do some research into this blood group and found out that 'O negative' blood can be donated to all other types of blood groups; however, I can only receive 'O negative' blood.
It is also the preferred blood group for transfusion for babies and accident victims. Due to the scarcity and ability to the transfused into people with other blood types, there is always an urgent need for type 'O negative' blood.
I hope that after reading my story, it has encouraged you to register and make an appointment to make your first blood donation, whatever blood group you are.
Giving blood saves lives and you never know when you may need it.
If I can do it, you can do it!
To register and make an appointment go to www.blood.co.uk
Lisa, Jade and Rachel after their first blood donation