Give Blood in Inverness: What it involves and where you can donate blood
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A new blood donation service has opened up in Inverness, so I went along to one of the centres to understand the importance of giving blood.
As a first time blood donor, and a person with a phobia of needles, it is fair to say that I was somewhat apprehensive about donating my blood to begin with, however, once I was greeted by the wonderful team at Raigmore Hospital, I was immediately put at ease.
To start with, I filled out a form that ensured my past medical history enabled me to give blood. This included a short questionnaire that made sure I hadn't had a tattoo in the last three months, verified any medication I take and if I had been out of the country for over six months.
Once my forms were complete, it was time to check my blood pressure, the presence of my veins and my iron levels.
Whilst my blood pressure and veins were alright, despite being hard to find, my iron levels were just under the necessary rate to donate blood.
This meant that rather than testing them through a small pin prick in my finger, a nurse required to complete a blood test from my arm.
This was due to the blood extraction in the tip of your finger not being as deep as the blood from a vein in your arm.
After a small scratch of the arm, it was clear that, unfortunately, my iron levels were just too low to allow me to donate blood.
Iron levels frequently fluctuate, so while I was healthy, I was also urged to eat lots of vegetables and protein to help boost my iron.
I was told that nutrition is a huge aspect of maintaining good Haemoglobin, and that people are encouraged to eat well prior to their appointment; so a gentle reminder to eat breakfast beforehand.
Whilst I was unable to donate, I did manage to speak to Dr Sylvia Armstrong-Fisher, who warmly welcomed me back in six months time to try again.
She spoke to me about the importance of blood donation as she said: "It is vital, not just for emergencies or for the planned surgeries, but its also for people that require blood transfusions on a daily basis.
"It's 24 hour support for hundreds of patients across Scotland."
A new blood transfusion process launched at Merkinch Community Centre yesterday, and will be followed by a Culloden session at a new venue, Smithton Church, on 10 October.
Dr Armstrong-Fisher continued: "We really need more donors to come forward in the Inverness area.
"We have had a hugely loyal donor base across the Highlands that have kept us going, but we need more people to come and join our ranks as we've probably got the lowest number of new donors coming forward in the Inverness area, compared to places like Aberdeenshire.
NHS Highland are crying out for blood donations as less than 4% of people eligible to give blood aren't registered.
The blood donation itself doesn't take more than 7 to 15 minutes and could save a persons life.
If you want to register to give blood then find your local test centre at Give Blood today.