When did you start giving blood? Some of our longest serving donors began way back in the 1950s and 60s, and have some great memories to share.
Eric Decamps says he still feels refreshed after giving blood – 65 years after his first donation!
I enrolled for my first donation in 1956. I was only 16 years old and I had to get my mother to sign a permission to allow me to donate.
I came across a large billboard outside the Burton menswear shop asking people to enrol to become blood donors. It got me thinking about when I was four years old and my Dad had been killed in action in Italy fighting for his King and country. I only ever saw him twice. I had always been proud of the fact he died to give us our freedom and to save others’ lives. So, I thought to myself I wanted to help save lives by giving blood and to dedicate this quest in his honour.
(Picture: Eric at around the time of his first donation)
I was a little apprehensive the first time I donated. It was at an old hospital ward and the nurse who attended to me did the usual blood test for iron levels first. Then she took me to an old army type camp bed on tall legs, laid me down with a pillow and inserted the needle. The whole time, she was reassuring me about the procedure and stayed with me till I had finished. She then made me lie there for about 10 minutes, checked my arm and put some cotton wool with a plaster on. I was then taken over to tea and biscuit area. I felt fine and well pleased with myself and it was so good to get my first sticker in my little book.
It’s like a car having an oil and filter change, it runs a lot better and so do I.
I am now 81 and I have donated blood 145 times. I am aiming for my 150th donation. I should have reached 150 donations a few years back but due to long distance lorry driving, I missed quite a few. I love donating as I always feel refreshed after. I top up my blood supply with new fresh home-made blood. It’s like a car having an oil and filter change, it runs a lot better and so do I.
All my donations were really good but to achieve my 100th donation was a fantastic feeling. I have also donated during the pandemic. It was as I expected: very meticulous with social distancing, sanitizing, masks, temperature testing. I was very pleased with safety methods from beginning to end. Apart from the extra precautions, it was pretty much the same and I still had that great feeling that I had donated again and helped to save lives.
One of my comments to people still hesitating to donate would be: what if you yourself or someone in your family were in need of an emergency blood transfusion? How would you feel if there was not enough blood because of a lack of donors? So, imagine if you were to become a donor and know that you were able to save someone’s life. It could be your pint that makes the difference between life and death, and like me, you would feel so proud of your donation. I ask you all out there: give blood today and save lives tomorrow!
I would like to add a big thanks to all the donors out there, you are fantastic, keep up the great work!