Student nurse, Adam Roxby, has been exploring what it means to give blood
Recently I donated blood for the 10th time and was given a rather snazzy badge and a certificate for my troubles.
This got me thinking about donating blood and the ethos behind it. Blood donation is organised through the National Blood Service, and while they have had shortages of stock, they have never actually run out of blood.
This is due to the altruistic acts carried out by so many people across the country. These people donate a bit of their time and endure minimal amounts of discomfort to help save the lives of people they most likely will never meet.
I choose to give blood for slightly selfish reasons; I enjoy the sense of satisfaction I get from knowing that I’ve done something completely selfless and beneficial. It goes back to the old argument that there is no such thing as a truly altruistic action. I’m fine with that, but I have often thought that giving blood should be semi-compulsory. A form of national service if you will, in which every person who leaves secondary school should be required to attend one at least donation session.
Obviously there will have to be exceptions to this. A whole host of medical or ethical and religious reasons may make you chose not to donate, or you may be unable to donate, and if people have a genuine phobia of needles then it would be unthinkable to force them to partake.
While talking to some of my fellow students I thought they would be in broad agreement with my idea. Partly because many of them have advanced in their studies to see where the blood is used and how vital it is to so many procedures. However, not only did a large amount of them not give blood when they were able to they didn’t think that it should be something more compulsory.
This made me re-evaluate my thinking on the matter and I began to question the very nature of what it is to be a part of society.
We will partake in activities which don’t directly benefit us but instead improve society as a whole. A huge amount of effort goes into protecting the environment which the current generation may not benefit from, scientists dedicate their lives to increasing the cumulative knowledge of humanity to bring about advances to future generations and as a country we donate vast amounts of money and resources to impoverished people across the world. Every time a natural disaster occurs we immediately feel connected to these people and generously try to help their situation.
So what is it about donating blood that is different?
I’m curious to know what you think. Different people donate blood and other parts of themselves for different reasons, and for every reason to donate there are just as many valid reasons not to.
I will continue to wear the plaster over my puncture site with pride and hope that people will join me. However, everyone is different and I am looking forward to the discussion.