This Friday is a very special day indeed. It is of course Valentine’s Day, the occasion hugely celebrated by Hallmark, Lindt and whoever it is that actually grows red roses. However, it’s also my birthday, so it’s a time when I not only receive cards and gifts, but also thank my parents for not paying tribute to the former event by calling me Val.
On top of that there’s another occasion to remember, and this one is actually important: Donor Day.
Specifically focusing on our precious blood and organs (rather than donating money or goods), Donor Day encourages us all to give blood regularly, donate bone marrow if possible, and sign up to an organ register so that we can continue to help those in need even after we’ve departed this mortal coil. I won’t be giving blood on Friday 14th myself, but that’s only because I did so a fortnight ago and you have to allow a few months between each session. In the UK, men can give blood four times a year and women three times, so just imagine how many people you could help within a single year, and how much you’ll aid the essential ongoing research into blood-related diseases.
Giving blood is so simple. First you need to register, then you choose a local venue where donation sessions are held, then you make an appointment. It’s been fifteen years since I registered, so it might not be a case of doing all of that within a few minutes, but the whole process is very straightforward and so important, especially with countless people in need of blood transfusions due to illness, accidents and surgery. The actual donation takes perhaps an hour from arrival to departure (it depends on how busy the session is); it’s painless, the staff are really friendly, and you even get a free biscuit to make sure your energy levels remain high. Afterwards I usually tweet the @GiveBloodNHS account using the #giveblood hashtag to let them know that they have yet another pint of my red stuff. (They’re great at replying.)
If you’re in the UK, please visit the Give Blood website and register today or book an appointment if it’s been a while since your last donation. If you’re in another country, simply search online and I’m sure that information will be at your fingertips in 0.62 seconds (or thereabouts).
If you need any further incentive, check out the stats below. These are for the UK, but regardless of where you live, it’s likely that there are far more people who have never donated (or are lapsed donors) than there are regular donors. If you’re able to, please become a regular member of a worldwide club that saves lives on a daily basis.
As Sean Bean would say in the National Blood Service adverts, “Do something amazing. Give blood.”