Miranda waiting in anticipation for the U busMIRANDA EVANS WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

Rubbing my eyes in a devilishly cartoonish way as the sunlight hits my face, I rue the day that I optimistically pressed “book appointment” on the 9:45am slot at the Cambridge Donor Centre, next to Addenbrookes Hospital. I pause for a minute or two, blinking at the ceiling before swiping the duvet off of myself and stomping into the shower. It is here that a smug sense of do-gooder pride envelopes me. I am giving blood today. I have blood. And I am giving it away. For free. My blood. For free. Was it Richard III who said: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse” well here I am now, thinking “nothing, nada, my blood for nish.”

I rinse away the lather of shampoo and turn the water temperature onto ice cold to do some Wim Hof breathing exercises. I am feeling exceedingly mindful now, but not mindful enough not to consider whether I’d get paid for my blood if I went private. A few more deep breaths and I come to my senses— “you are a do-gooder, you do good and thrive,” I think, “and if it comes down to it, you can always sell your eggs”.

“Novi pales in comparison to the Cambridge Donor Centre where refreshments are concerned”

On the U-bus now, taking in the sights, tickled by the naughtiness of being up and about before 10am. I look around me and think, “they probably don’t know I’m giving blood, they do not know that they are in the presence of a devout philanthropist”—I realise I am being somewhat lofty so I spit on the floor to ground myself. The bus driver shoots me a glare in the rear view mirror so I pull a mooney—my very own rear view.

We arrive at the donation centre, and I feel as though the bus driver and I have bonded somewhat. This is disproved when he drives off after I wink and signal that he is to follow me to the bloodbath. I marched onward. The air is warm, humid. My blood is bubbling beneath the skin, as if it can tell what fate awaits it— to be cloistered in a plastic bag, as opposed to the fleshy one it currently resides in.

A sharp cool wind hits me with real gusto as I stride into the air conditioned reception. “Here to donate!” I announce, slapping my half eaten burrito on the desk (make sure you eat and drink plenty before giving blood). Gratified immediately with a “great, thank you” from the friendly staff, I take hold of the questionnaire they give me, brandish a biro and tick “no” to all the prompts such as “in the last three months have you had sex with a new partner, or had sex with more than one partner?”— enough said, I stop reading half way.

After polishing off the questionnaire, and questioning my life choices, I make my way through to the waiting room i.e. the first snack station. I make a cocktail of two out of the array of squashes available: lemon crush and blackcurrant bliss. Novi pales in comparison to the Cambridge Donor Centre where refreshments are concerned. Would you rather pay £11 for a glass of glorified alcopop (still hung up about that) or give a mere pint of blood for squash and a Bourbon? I know what I’d go for. After you load up on nibbles, you’re taken into a small room where they check your blood pressure (or something of the like) with one of those things that squeezes around your arm like a benevolent boa constrictor. I am as fit as a fiddle and so I make it to the next level.


Mountain View

Ode to the rice cooker: gyp proof recipes

The main event. Myself and about half a dozen other donors sit primly, trying to out-smug one another. “I’m doing a good thing,” “So am I”. “Yes, yes we’re all saints aren’t we, isn’t that something”. This is where it gets embarrassing. I may be a do-gooder, but my body is not. A bleeping from the machine beside me echoes through the ward. “That sound is not a happy sound” the nurse informs me. Reluctant to leave its host, my blood flow is lazy, hesitant, and afraid, much like myself. But after some tight fist-clenching and buttock-tensing, I get it flowing again. Like a human breast pump (ish…).

The blood bag quickly fills up and the whole process takes no longer than an hour. I speak to some folk at the second snack station (where you have to wait fifteen minutes before leaving), one of whom is giving his 150th donation. He is gloating of course—I’d be the same. But this really hammers home the beauty of blood donation. Yes, you can allow yourself to be a little smug. Yes, you can write about it in Varsity for clout. But at the end of the day, it’s a means to a very important end and we should all, if able, be doing it.

For anyone who wants to feel as superior as I more information regarding blood donation in Cambridge, can be found here.