Regular readers will know that one of the things I'm passionate about is blood donation. A new Red Cross Blood Bank opened in Shepparton this week, and I wanted to review it.
This particular blood bank is on Corio Street (enter off Vaughan Street). The first thing you notice on going in is that it's very open. On one side there's a line of consultation rooms where the assessment for donation is carried out, but otherwise the area blood donors encounter is a single large area where the only walls are essentially there to direct traffic.
The decor is subdued and soothing - red, white and timber - and you move through in a counterclockwise direction. First, to a waiting area to fill in the paperwork, then to a consultation room where your health (including blood pressure, heart rate and haemoglobin) is checked, and then to the donation area. After donating, you proceed to another area for water, milk, biscuits and (hopefully) to make another booking. This pattern gives donating an orderly, low-pressure feeling.
I usually donate plasma rather than whole blood, which takes a little longer (the process is fascinating - the blood is taken out of your arm, spun in a centrifuge to extract the plasma, and then what remains is returned to the arm with saline fluid). There's certainly nothing to be afraid of however you donate: the staff are all nurses and the chances of misadventure are infinitesimal. Because they're experienced, insertion of the needle into a vein in the elbow involves no more than a tiny sting. This needs to be remembered because the needle itself is the largest gauge in medical use (after you've had this used once or twice, you'll never fear a needle again). Blood bank staff never fail to make you welcome, and in umpteen donations I don't think I've ever felt like I was just another arm.
The Red Cross Blood Service has plenty of material on the value of blood donation, and I don't suppose there's a need to rehearse it here. What I can tell you truly is that if you have a mind to give blood, I can't think of a better place than the Shepparton Donor Centre.