This Is The Most Rewarding Thing You Can Do In Dublin
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We sat in the waiting room for about five minutes, tapping our feet and sniggering away nervously, before we were called forward. There was no going back at that point.
Three members of the LD team paid a visit to the Blood Donor Clinic on D'Olier Street this week, after it was revealed that there were only three days worth of blood supplies left in the country.
For two of us it was our first time donating, and we were decidedly jittery at the prospect of needles and large quantities of blood visibly leaving our bodies. We're funny like that.
Regardless, we'd always wanted to give blood and this seemed like the best time to start, so we'd booked an appointment ahead of time.
Back to the clinic. As soon as we were called to the reception desk, that's when the questions began.
You soon realise that most of your visit will be spent answering questions.
First, you give your basic contact info before being given a folder containing all the information you need to know about your donation (read it because they will ask about it), along with a questionnaire that you need to fill out.
The questionnaire contains about 50 questions that aim to determine whether you're suitable to donate blood, asking questions your health, drug use, sexual history, and illnesses.
They're all yes or no questions, so you fly through it.
Once you've that out of the way, you get your "interview" – which sounded more daunting than it actually turned out to be. Here you're just asked if you've read and understood the info in the folder, and then the 50 questions from the questionnaire are repeated aloud (maintaining eye contact during the sexual history section was a real highlight).
There's one question on the form that might give you pause, asking if you've been out of the country recently. You'd probably think a brief trip abroad wouldn't warrant a mention, but it does: a recent holiday to the south of France nearly disqualified me from donating, as there had been reports of the dengue virus there in recent months.
Once you've got that all done, your haemoglobin levels are checked to see if they're acceptable. All this takes is a prick on the finger and they'll tell you in seconds if everything's copacetic.
So after all that you have another waiting room. It's a definite upgrade though: this is where they keep the snacks and drinks. We're talking KitKats, Taytos, Club Orange – the works.
This is a good opportunity to get some fluids into you before the donation (it makes you less likely to faint).
We twiddled our recently pricked thumbs in this waiting room for about 15 minutes before we got another call for the moment of truth.
We were lead to another area where all the reclining donation chairs were set up, and there were another few minutes of waiting as the nurses finished up with other patients.
If it's your first time donating, this is probably the moment you'll be on the verge of freaking out. Luckily, however, as soon as the nurses see to you they're constantly trying to keep your mind off what's happening to your arm.
You squeeze and release a toy bone as your blood is being withdrawn (it speeds up the process), and the nurse will happily talk shite with you as they sit tending to the blood packs just out of sight under your chair.
The donation itself only lasts about 15 minutes.
Once the donation is over, you're encouraged to spend 15 minutes in yet another sitting area and help yourself to free sweets and fizzy drinks.
Medical advice has never been better.
In truth, even with our booking, the whole process took us about an hour and a half. But don't let that discourage you from trying it yourself.
Maybe every step above sounded like a pain to you but it genuinely wasn't, especially since we came in a group and could have a laugh over our nervousness.
It's the staff that really make the experience what it is. At every stage, from the receptionist to the nurse, everyone involved thanks you for your donation. You come away feeling like you've actually made a difference.
Which ain't bad for 90 minutes of work.
You'll find this Blood Donor Clinic at LaFayette House on D'Olier Street. To find a clinic near you, click here.