All my life, or at least all my adult life, I have been a blood donor.
I started when I was eighteen, and continued until my late twenties, every six months until I was pregnant with Simon. I did it through my nursing training and continued when I was working in GI medicine (in the years when we gave many transfusions for bleeding duodenal ulcers, before we knew that most were caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori and could be treated with a 4-8 week course of antibiotics). I then worked in Neuro-trauma and Neonates and saw for myself how this small gift could save a life, speed a recovery, make a difference.
I did one donation between babies and then had to wait again before I could go back to it. (You have to have a year off.)
Then I did plasmapheresis for a few years which meant going every month or so, instead of every six.
It wasn't until I discovered that I couldn't donate for medical reasons about six years ago that I stopped at around the 40 donation mark.
I was gutted.
Donating blood was part of who I am. Like cleaning my teeth in a particular way, or liking Marmite instead of chocolate.
Like me, Gavin (Mr YY) has always given blood. The boys knew we did it, they came with us, and sat next to us and watched the process. They ate the biscuits and drank the juice as well.
They always said that when they were old enough, they would do it too.
You can now give blood when you are seventeen, not eighteen as it used to be. Last year Simon had his lip pierced which means he can't do it for a year, so he'll have to wait.
But yesterday Adam came with us into Edinburgh to give his first donation.
He was nervous, but quite happy with his decision, and it's now a couple of months after his seventeenth birthday.
And this was the result.
We asked about donation generally and the centre manager told us that the donor "pool" was declining. Older donors are, well, older - and retiring from the system. Many younger people go on Gap-year travel and are excluded for a year or more when they return. Often people who have had a donation themselves want to "give something back" but they are now in the group who are unable to donate for medical reasons.
People are busy, we lead full lives, and it slips down the priority list.
Is anyone up for a challenge?
How about donating for the first time.
If you have donated in the past, make a phone call and book a fresh appointment.
If you can't donate any more, like me, support anyone you know who can.
Take your children with you, so it becomes normal for them, part of family life.
Take your non-donating partner with you, just for the company.
Take a friend.
Take several friends and go for lunch afterwards. What a great reason to meet up with people you don't get the chance to see very often every four months. Celebrate your friendship.
People call me an "enabler" - I would be so chuffed if I could "enable" a few more donors.
Adam was doing it for the first time, and Gavin... well added together, they make A Twilight Barking.
It was Adam's first, and Gavin's hundredth donation.
A hundred and one donations.
Cool, or what?
PS Gavin said "A Twilight Barking" was obscure... but you knew what I meant, didn't you?
PPS If you donate, or donate-by-proxy, or "enable" someone else, let me know... I might even put a total in the sidebar!