Here in the UK it’s National Blood Week and a new campaign has been launched by the NHS Blood and Transplant to Find the Missing Type; more than 204,000 new donors are needed to come forward and give blood.
Culminating on World Blood Donor Day this Sunday 14 June, it’s a huge initiative that aims to raise awareness and encourage people to come forward and help save lives. Blood is vital to patients all over the world, and donating is fast and easy to do.
Blood around the world
Blood transfusion helps save millions of lives around the world every year. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions, support complex surgeries and medical procedures and plays a life-saving role in maternal care, accidents and natural disasters.
However in many countries, there isn’t an adequate, safe supply of blood – which is why blood donors are so important. The short shelf-life of blood means new donors are in constant demand; the campaign this year ‘Thank you for saving my life’ is all about thanking blood donors for stepping forward and encouraging new donors to come forward and give blood for the first time.
Who can donate
Most people can give blood – if you are fit and healthy between the ages of 17 and 66, you should be able to give blood. If you have donated once before, you can give blood to the age of 70 – after that, you’ll need to have given blood in the last two years to continue doing so. There are a number of criteria that may disqualify you, so it’s always worth checking before you go if there are any reasons you might get turned away. Here are the most common:
- You’ve travelled outside the UK at some point during the last six months.
- You’ve had an infection within the last two weeks.
- You’re on antibiotics or have been within the last week.
- You’ve gotten a body piercing or tattoo within the last four months.
- You’re feeling unwell (head cold, fever, cold sores, etc.).
- You’ve had dental work within the last week.
- You have or have had a heart condition.
Find a blood centre near you
The NHS Give Blood website has a useful section on who can give blood and information on what to do if you’re not sure.
Where to donate
During National Blood Week there are sessions all over the country where you can go and give blood. To find one nearest you, visit the Give Blood website – you can enter your location and see a list of all the blood donor centres in your area.
Of course, World Blood Donor Day isn’t the only time you can give blood; the whole objective of the campaign is to encourage people do to it regularly. Here’s where you can find information about blood donor clinics throughout the year:
- In England type in your location to find a session at Blood.co.uk.
- In Scotland enter your postcode in the search tool at ScotBlood.co.uk.
- In Northern Ireland search the map for your nearest blood donation centre at NIBTS.org.
What to expect on your visit
There’s very little you need to do in the way or preparation before a visit to a blood donation clinic. Drinking lots of water and a balanced meal will help ensure you feel comfortable ahead of your session, and loose fitting sleeves will make it easier for the nurse or practitioner to draw blood.
When you arrive for your appointment, you’ll sign in and confirm your identity and then fill out a shot form to ensure you’re eligible. A staff member will talk you through the form and if you’re OK to donate will do a simple finger-prick blood test to check your haemoglobin levels. If your levels are okay, you’re ready to donate.
The donation process itself lasts about 10 minutes. Donors are led into a room with comfortable, reclining chairs. A needle is inserted into a vein in the arm to draw blood, and when it’s finished you’re advised to relax and enjoy a refreshment and rest for a moment to make sure you don’t feel light headed.
Will you give blood for National Blood Week?