On the 12th I made my 14th whole blood donation. Blood donation is one of the few things that I have a strong opinion about. For a small chunk of time every three months most people can help save lives. I say most because there are restrictions on who can and cannot donate blood.
For example down here in New Zealand anyone that has injected themselves with anything not prescribed by a doctor are not to donate blood. Also if you've been sick recently you shouldn't be donating blood which has stopped me before.
The entire process is very safe and pretty simple. You start off with a questionerre that covers the restrictions and such before donating blood. This is followed by talking to a nurse who looks at the questionerre and takes a quick hemoglobin count to make sure that it's high enough. After all of this the easy part happens. You lie back in a bed/chair thing while a nurse preps your arm and then sticks the needle. Now this is the most painful bit because while the needle doesn't go in far it is a fair size so as not to damage the blood cells. Then you sit back reading, listening to your mp3 player, napping, anything else that doesn't involve moving about for 10 to 15 minutes while the donation is taken. Afterwards the needle gets taken out, you sit back for a couple more minutes then go and get a bite to eat and something to drink. I'd say this is the best part because who can say no to sugary stuff.
And if you want to get into it even more down here in New Zealand every two weeks you can make a plasma donation where only the plasma is taken out. This is more involved and takes longer but with all the plasma products used the blood service down here is always asking for more plasma donors.
So donating blood is a simple, safe and useful way to help those around you that are in a bit of trouble. And if you're in Wellington the nurses and other donors are good fun and good to chat with.