Carly Balkin donates blood while David Sparkes and Emily Blatchford wait.
Carly Balkin donates blood while David Sparkes and Emily Blatchford wait. Simon Crase

This blood is worth bottling

IT WAS a bloody day in The Observer office yesterday, with several staff members deciding to roll up our sleeves, put our money where our mouths were and donate some blood.

While some of us were veterans in the art of blood donation, others were first-time givers and weren't sure what to expect.

Understandably, many people are daunted by the idea of being jabbed with a needle but here at The Observer we discovered it's really not that bad. In fact, there are even some perks.

Firstly, you get fed. After you donate your blood, you can sit down and enjoy some delicious bickies, cheese and crackers, cordial and even sticky buns.

Donate with some mates and it's like you get a free afternoon tea.

Secondly, the staff at the Gladstone Red Cross blood service are super friendly and make you feel like you're a superhero rather than someone who merely rolled up their sleeve.

Finally, there's that positive (and let's face it, kind of smug) feeling you get from having done something really worthwhile on an otherwise ordinary workday.

What about the pain? The fainting? The dizziness?

Well, there was no pain. In this case it really was “a quick jab”, and then a slightly uncomfortable couple of minutes. A handy tip is not to look at the needle when they insert it into your vein – somehow, it hurts less when you can't see it.

The dizziness and fainting can be avoided by making sure you have a good meal and drink plenty of water before you donate.

Red Cross volunteers recommend you start being aware of your fluid intake a full day before, so you're not attempting to gulp down litres of water in the waiting room.

Also if at any point you feel dizzy during your donation, you just need to let one of the staff know and they can take proper care of you.

It took me 12 minutes to give 470ml of blood and when I walked out, I felt nothing but great.

For more info, go to http://www.donateblood.com.au