Friday thought #16 Giving blood – UK vs France

I’m not sure what giving blood involves in other countries; I can only compare the differences I’ve experienced between giving blood in the UK and in France. I’m sure most people are aware of what giving blood involves; in a nutshell: filling in a form confirming that you are not currently unwell, a pin prick blood test from your finger and a chat with a nice volunteer doctor, finishing up with lying on a gurney whilst blood gently flows out of your arm and in to a plastic bag! It’s a wonderful organisation, run by incredibly hard working doctors and nurses who travel around the country collecting blood to be given to patients in desperate need of a blood transfusion.

I’ve been giving blood for many years and would encourage others to support this as often as possible, but this is not a post telling people to give blood, it’s far less high-brow and virtuous. I simply feel the need to let the world know just how wonderful the after-blood-giving food is when donating in France… This is truly something the French do well and should be applauded for.

To put this in to perspective, after having lost a pint of blood you may understandably be feeling slightly weak, perhaps a little dizzy, and are advised to sit down and have something to eat and drink to ensure you are fully well before leaving the venue. In the UK you are directed to a small seating area and offered a packet of biscuits and a cup of sugary tea. Everyone sits around politely whilst they munch their sugary snacks, then quietly sidles out the door.

In France, this is a different story. When the needle has been successfully removed from your arm, you are pointed in the direction of what can only be described as a banqueting table. You are seated at an individual place with cutlery, a wine glass, a water glass and a napkin, very like a slightly makeshift restaurant! Then a helpful volunteer will appear as if from nowhere to place a plate in front of you, laden with treats. At my most recent donation the table contained the following:

White, red or rosé wine

A variety of juices

A selection of cheeses, cold meats, patés, olives, a basket of fresh bread, and a platter of sliced apples and tomatoes.

Main course over, dessert consisted of a smorgasbord of home baked cakes and tarts, from which you could choose. The first time I came across this I was stunned and asked the gentleman next to me if this was normal. “Bien sur” was the reply as he looked at me in surprise and quizzically asked what happened in my country. This was not a sugary snack to check you were ok, this was dinner.

Thank you France, you certainly know how to reward your blood donors! What better incentive to do something good than a delicious big feed at the end?! How does it work in other countries? I’d love to know!

Cup of tea and a digestive? Can't complain...
Cup of tea and a digestive? Can’t complain can we?…
Quite the evening meal! Totally worth the blood loss!
Quite the evening meal! Totally worth the blood loss!
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