Elliot gives blood for the first time

A newsletter on blood donation is the last place you’d usually find me. My whole life I’ve been afraid of blood and, up until a few months back, the idea of donating it was a pipe dream.

So, when the final year of university came around and we were tasked with making a documentary, I took the opportunity to confront my fears and I signed up to donate – at the very least, fainting on camera would make for good viewing.

ever since a very young age, the sight of blood could send me into hyperventilation

That being said, fainting was never my problem – ever since a very young age, the sight of blood could send me into hyperventilation, then cause panic attacks that would bring me to the brink of passing out.

Donor Elliot Reed on his way to give bloodPeople say that deep fears like these are rooted in traumatic childhood experiences, and I speculate mine was the result of tumbling over and cracking my head in year one of primary school. It was a minor wound, but my first experience with my blood was enough to shake me to my core.

As the years passed, with each gory horror film and injury under my belt the fear became less and less of a problem, but the fact that a severe reaction could sometimes sneak up on me meant that donating blood wasn’t an option.

With this in mind, I’d always had the utmost respect for donors – there are few opportunities in life where we get to do something truly selfless, without even seeing the positive impact it brings, and giving blood is an example of that. It’s a place where anyone can genuinely save a life, and though that may seem a little grandiose, I’d always been in awe of people that take the time to do it as often as they can, knowing they’ll never meet the people who are alive today thanks to them.

It was strange to think that the stuff coursing through me, the stuff I was afraid to look at, was many people’s means of giving something back – why shouldn’t I do the same?

So, I titled my mini-documentary ‘Elliot Bleeds’, a film dedicated to the fears that hang over us and the importance of overcoming them, especially in the case of haemophobia (the fear of blood). I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I doubt I’d be writing in so willingly had I dropped at the sight of the red stuff on donation day.

Donor Elliot Reed gives blood for the first time

If you’re a regular donor, this may all seem a little small-fry, and you’re right, but it’s funny how I could only see that when the needle was in my arm, chatting to the nurse and enjoying the free snacks.

it turns out giving blood is quite A-Positive experience

If you’re not a regular donor, or you know someone who isn’t, my documentary shows the whole donation process, from the signup to the not-so-grisly details – it turns out giving blood is quite A-Positive experience.

If you know someone who hasn’t donated, consider sending them my film – maybe they’ll see that if I can do it, anyone can.

And if giving blood doesn’t scare you (which it shouldn’t), I hope you’ll consider facing your biggest fear. I know some fears are more rational, and others run deeper in the veins than my blood phobia, but I can promise you one thing – fears are at their biggest before you face them head on.