Last Friday I got an award.
Hurrah for me, I hear you say. But this is probably one of the most important things that I’ve ever been awarded. It’s a small enamel badge and certificate acknowledging that I’ve just made my tenth blood donation.
I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in the UK we’ve got a well-established (and free) health service that collects blood from volunteers just like me, ready to be used by anyone who needs it. They take their mobile units and set up in church halls, community buildings, workplaces, anywhere there’s a space to get a few bodies lying down comfortably for a few minutes and a table for the weak lemon drink and biscuit afterwards. And I’ve not yet worked for an employer who hasn’t given me paid time off to go and give my shot when they’re collecting near my workplace, always a bonus in my book.
For quite a few years now, I’ve given a pint every now and again. Admittedly it’s been somewhat erratic – you can’t donate within 12 months of a piercing or tat, which affected me quite a bit when I was younger, and I’ve sometimes just forgotten. Theoretically, I could make three donations a year; the reality is that I’ve made about one a year. But the important thing is: I’ve given something that cost me a few moments of very mild discomfort but could be worth a life.
And that’s a good feeling.
Maybe I feel it a bit more personally than some. About 7 years ago, one of my brothers was in a nasty accident (he lost control of the van he was driving because of a mechanical failure). He was badly injured, losing a piece of flesh from his thigh about 5″x7″ square and half an inch thick. A major artery in his leg was ripped open. The fact that the crash occurred only a minute from the city hospital, and with a doctor and nurse passing by at the time, almost certainly saved his life. He lost two pints of blood at the scene, but would’ve lost a lot more (and died) without the first-aid he received.
Whilst they stabilised him in hospital they transfused fifteen pints of blood into him to keep him going and make sure he had the best chance possible. He’s a strong kiddie and pulled through. But without that blood, so freely and generously given, the chances are I would’ve been burying my bruv.
So, to anyone who’s reading this, find out when your next donor session is and go along. You’ll get a warm welcome, a break from work, the aforementioned squash and biccie and an immeasuarble sense of satisfaction. Don’t give me any of that nonsense about being scared of needles either – you’re a punk for fuck’s sake! Look the other way and imagine that you’re in the thick of it at an Extreme Noise Terror gig, complete with soundtrack, booze and mental mental moshing, punk meditation if you like. Before you know it, it’ll all be over. And you’ve probably lost a lot less blood than if you’d actually been at the gig.
Not only that, but having a pint of blood taken out of you don’t half make the evening beer and spliff a lot more enjoyable.