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09th September 2016

What Is It Like to Be a Blood Donor with a Learning Disability?

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I found out about giving blood because my cousin is a blood donation nurse. I asked her about it and she explained what she does and why giving blood is important. I told her that I would like to give blood and she booked me an appointment.

I wasn’t nervous because I knew her and she talked me through what was happening. First they test your blood, and if you pass the test they take a blood donation from you. My cousin asked me to put my arm out and explained that she was finding a vein. Once the needle was in and the blood was coming out, it didn’t really hurt.

Afterwards, they make sure you are okay. You sit down for a bit and are given a drink and a biscuit. I feel fine after giving blood

Helping others

I give blood every few months. I have now done it 61 times! It makes me feel happy that I am helping to save people’s lives.

Sometimes I have gone and not been able to give blood because my blood sugar or iron levels were too low. So I just try again next time.

They used to send me a letter when it was time to give blood, but now I have the app on my phone. This tells me when it is time to give blood and I can make an appointment.

Improvement possible with easy read

The only problem is that the form you have to fill in before you can give blood is not in easy read.

I tell them that I can’t read it and somebody helps me to fill it in. But it would be better if the information was accessible to everyone.

There are 5 people with a learning disability who give blood in Oxford. The blood donation service is always looking for more people to give blood. There is no reason why people with learning disabilities can’t give blood. But we aren’t usually told about it and the information is not in easy read.

A great way to help

My blood type is A/B. I think this is quite common but there are some blood types that are rare and they need more of. Some of our members or other people with learning disabilities might be a rare blood type.

I think everyone should be a blood donor. My advice is – try it! Before you go, make sure to have a good meal and drink a lot of water.

Giving blood is important, it saves lives, and everyone should have the chance to do it.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Paul Scarrott

My Life My Choice Expert

I have a learning disability. I live a fairly independent life and care for my wife who also has a learning disability. I went to special schools when I was growing up and have been on disability related benefits for most of my adult life. I have been a trustee of My Life My Choice since 2009. I led the My Life My Choice campaigns that challenged the treatment of people with learning disabilities in Winterbourne view, and the Justice for LB campaign about a young Oxford man with learning disabilities, Connor Sparrowhawk, who died a preventable death whilst being “cared” for by Southern Health at Slade House, Oxford. I have a good knowledge of best practice in health and social care settings. I am an expert by experience for the NHS care and treatment reviews, and have carried out a number of inspections since 2014. I was an expert by experience for CQC between 2008 and 2012. I have also trained Health and Social Care students at Oxford Brookes University. I am very involved in my local community. I have served on the Thames Valley Police Independent Advisory Group since 2011. I serve on focus groups for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to help improve services for people with learning disabilities. I won the Oxfordshire Volunteer of the Year Award 2011 for my work with Oxfordshire County Council in helping them to improve services through many consultations and focus groups.

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