The Australian Red Cross is in crisis. When I first decided to do this date, they had less than three days’ supply of blood left in their banks.
I’ve been meaning to book this date in for awhile now, ever since someone suggested it over on the $30 Date Night Generator. It doesn’t rate very highly on our user votes, but actually, this date ideas ticks all the boxes you need! It’s novel, it’s giving back to the community, it’s a free date idea, obviously, and afterwards you get the warm fuzzy feeling you can only get from making a real difference to someone’s life.
Working for ourselves means we don’t always have extra cash to give away to charities.
Instead, we tend to give our time or expertise to our chosen causes when we can.
But blood is one thing two healthy young individuals such as ourselves have plenty of – and there are people who desperately need it.
The majority of donated blood goes to people with cancer, as well as people who have suffered traumatic accidents, burns or those undergoing surgery. One blood donation can save up to three people’s lives.
If spending ten minutes with a needle in my arm every few months can save even one life, how can you not want to donate? It’s selfish not to.
Every week, Australia needs 27,000 blood donations to keep the system running smoothly.
I called ahead to make our appointment at the Southbank donation centre. There was no waiting time on the line, the staff were lovely, helpful and appreciative. They thank you warmly for your support as they sign off the phone call.
As we were instructed to come well-fed and hydrated, I decided to take Den for lunch first in the city. I sent him off in the morning with a full bottle of water and instructions to drink it all, then headed into the city to meet him.
It was supposed to be a surprise for Den, mainly because he baulks at the idea of new things he’s not comfortable with. The best way to handle him, I’ve found, is spring it on him last minute and once he’s in the thick of it, he copes just fine.
We ate at Fugazza in the city, which is an amazing little café! It’s specialty is foccacia, but not as you know it. Think house-baked breads, locally sourced smallgoods and light, fluffy foccacias. Nothing like the greasy ones they love to serve up at bog-standard cafes around town. They also make a fantastic coffee.
Unfortunately, a friend unwittingly guessed what I was up to and sent Den into a bit of a frenzy earlier than I had expected. He was nervous. To be honest, I was a little nervous too.
The staff at the Blood Donation Centre were all lovely. It smells like a hospital when you first walk in, which I didn’t expect but in reflection that’s exactly what you want a place that’s taking blood from you to smell like!
There’s a pretty personal set of questions to answer, because they screen all their donors very carefully to minimize any risks at all. Your blood pressure and iron levels are checked (watch for the surprise finger prick test! I was all psyched up for the vein needle, but the iron test was unexpected!) and a thorough medical history questionnaire is carried out.
Once you’re cleared, it’s over to the donor ‘couches’ which are big reclining chairs. They sterilise you and hook you up. All in all it takes about 8-10 minutes to collect almost half a litre of your blood.
It doesn’t hurt. In fact, it’s kind of cool if you’re not the queasy type. But unfortunately for me, all the excitement sent me into a bit of a spin and I nearly passed out.
Because I’m “a fainter” I recognised the signs early enough to alert the nurses before I completely blacked out. They were fantastic – apparently it happens all the time. The needle is immediately taken from your arm and the chair is put into the recovery position – head down, feet upwards. I was plied with apple juice and felt better after a few minutes.
They still got almost halfway there in the amount they were taking, so I hope I made a difference to at least one person.
After it’s over, they invite you to sit in their café area where a lovely nurse will make you milkshakes and sausage rolls and you can take your pick from the candy/biscuit/juice buffet.
It feels fantastic to be able to make such a difference to people’s lives. We’ll both be back after the required three month break to donate again – I’m determined to get through it next time. And I recommend you do it, too. Going along together makes all the difference, particularly on your first time.
It may not be the most romantic date you’ll ever go on, but it will mean more to the lives of others than you could even imagine. Contact the Australian Red Cross to make an appointment or call 13 14 95. In America, contact America’s Blood Centers to become a donor or Google around to find your country’s blood supply network.
Are you a blood donor? Would you consider this idea for your next date night?