In recent years, various colleagues at Pauwels Consulting have regularly donated blood in Ghent. Björn Nachtegaele, Senior Account Manager Engineering, is one of the driving forces behind this relatively new tradition. It’s time for a heart-to-heart chat.
Björn, you give blood regularly, and you are persuading more and more of your colleagues to do it with you. That’s great!
Björn: Thank you. I’ve been giving blood for a long time. It doesn’t take much effort, but it can save lives. That’s why I’ve been sending out a general message to my colleagues every few months in the last few years. It’s not an official invitation, but a message that I’m going to give blood again.
This gives people the chance to say whether they are interested in joining me, without any peer pressure. I then contact each colleague who has expressed an interest separately to set a date. You quickly notice that the threshold for giving blood is lower when you can do it together with others.
How did this initiative come about?
Björn: I’ve only been giving blood consistently for two or three years, but Pauwels Consulting has had loyal blood donors in its ranks for some time. When the topic came up, I decided to check with everyone in our back office to see if they wanted to take part, too.
To our great joy, there was a high level of engagement and since then giving blood has become a tradition. Colleagues, including new donors, now spontaneously swing by my office to ask when I’ll be organising the next one. We now have a core group of around 12 to 15 colleagues.
You notice that colleagues are more inclined to join in when we make it a kind of ‘team event’. It makes doubters more likely to say yes and new donors enthusiastic. A lot of people get cold feet at the thought of it, which can be remedied if you feel supported by colleagues and friends.
Are colleagues afraid to donate? How do you help them in that case?
Björn: Some are a little more nervous than others, of course. But you get can used to anything, including giving blood. A needle in your arm will never be pleasant, of course, but there’s little point making it a bigger deal than it is.
That said, I would never push my colleagues to come with me. Everyone decides for themselves. Someone may also have a private reason why they can’t give blood. It’s only if I see that someone wants to take part, but still has some doubts, that I know what I need to say to get that colleague on board. Even so, there should already be some clear interest or initiative on their part.
Are you still afraid of the needle?
Björn: Let’s just say that you get used to it (laughs). I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me one bit anymore, but all in all I can handle it quite well by now.
Why is donating blood so important to you?
Björn: I don’t think this needs much explanation. Blood saves lives – it’s that simple. And it really doesn’t require much effort to give something you’re going to create again shortly afterwards anyway. The Red Cross is facing an immediate shortage of donors, so every little helps.
Do you have any tips for colleagues or others who want to donate for the first time?
Björn: Above all, make sure that you have eaten and drunk enough fluids beforehand. If there’s one time you can sneak in some extra sugar, this would be it. Drinking lots of water is just as useful. Other than that, don’t think about it too much. Just let it happen. We’ll distract you (laughs).
Björn Nachtegaele is an Account Manager at Pauwels Consulting. He has 10 years of experience in recruitment and account management in consultancy. He advises accounts such as Elia, Tuc Rail, etc. with expertise in large-scale infrastructure works.
Do you have a question for Björn? Contact him here.