The season for giving…blood

The needle was the size of the insert of a biro. Just as the nurse was lining it up with the vein in my left arm, I asked him, “So, how long have you been doing this?”

“Oh, since about October,” he replied. “Before that, after I left the army, I was a hairdresser…”

You might have thought this would have made me more nervous but, actually, I’ve found those newer to the profession are always that little bit more careful when stabbing you with sharp objects.

I have been a blood donor since I got my first motorcycle licence back in the 1990s. I decided a bit of pay-it-forwards might not be a bad idea—the road accident statistics being what they were. Fortunately, I’ve never needed to receive blood. But you never know…

ZoeSharp-StreetTriple-lo-res

I’m ashamed to admit that my recent donation was the first time I’ve given blood in five years. Personal upheaval and several changes of location were the main culprits. Add to that the fact that you can no longer just go along to a session but need to make an appointment, booked well in advance. As I found from experience, they fill up fast. In fact, by the time I received the invitation from the blood transfusion service, all the appointments were usually long gone.

However, this time I was lucky. They called me and there were two slots left. The experience was quick, not at all painful—you even get a hot drink and biscuits afterwards—and left me with a feeling of satisfaction. I have already been online and booked my next appointment for April. That will be my fiftieth donation.

I did quite a bit of research on blood groups and their combinations when I was writing book six in the Charlie Fox series, SECOND SHOT, mainly to find out which blood groups in parents could—or could not—produce which blood groups in a child.

The most common type is O-positive—38 percent of the population has this type. Those with O-negative are far fewer at only 7 percent. These are the ones known as universal donors—you can give O-negative blood to all other ABO types, in an emergency.

A-positive is the next most common blood group, at 34 percent, all the way down to AB-negative, at just one percent of the population. Those with AB-positive blood (3 percent) are known as universal receivers. The rarest blood type in the world is Rh-null, which can be accepted by anyone in the Rh system. As of 2014, there were fewer than 10 such people in the world donating their blood.

If you are fit and healthy and are not a blood donor, perhaps it’s time to make a New Year’s Resolution to become one in 2019?

This week’s Word of the Week is sanguineous, meaning blood red, involving bloodshed, or bloodthirsty, from sanguis, Latin for blood, it shares its roots with sanguine, which has come to mean confident or optimistic but originally meant to have a ruddy complexion. In medieval times, this was thought to denote a courageous temperament.