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LAURA CARTER: Why giving your blood could save lives

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There is a saying among nurses: "Save one life and you're a hero, save 100 lives and you're a nurse."

I certainly don't think of myself as a lifesaver, personally I would give that title to paramedics and first-aiders; they are the ones who really save lives. By the time patients reach me on a hospital ward, it's not very often that they really need "saving" as such.

I've been involved in my fair share of resuscitations but I couldn't tell you how many lives I might have helped to save in my work. I can, however, tell you how many I have saved outside of work.

Twelve and counting. Maybe even more.

It has nothing to do with being a nurse. I'm not calling ambulances and giving CPR to people who have had a cardiac arrest; I'm giving blood.

Today I will be giving blood for the 13th time – unlucky for some but not for the person or potentially even multiple people whose lives will be changed by a blood transfusion. My one donation can be split into red cells, platelets, and plasma. That's a potential of three lives saved right there.

I have seen first-hand the difference these magic little bags of cells make to people. Not just those who have had surgery or lost a lot of blood but also to those with cancer and those with medical conditions like sickle cell anaemia. Yes, I know some people don't like needles and some people are not physically able to do it but, of the 60 million or so people who live in the UK, only 4 per cent who are able to give blood actually do. How many of you have never given blood but would take it if you needed it?

It takes an hour of your time three or four times a year but it could add days, months or even years to the life of another. And they'll give you free tea and biscuits too. Or coffee and crisps, if you prefer.

You don't have to wear a uniform to do something amazing. Save a life. Give blood.

Visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

LAURA CARTER: Why giving your blood could save lives


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