What is blood donation?

Donating blood provides a lifeline to those who are in desperate need due to a long term health issue or emergency. Each time you donate blood, the donation can help save or improve the lives of three adults or seven babies.

Blood has many components which are vital for different uses, including red cells, plasma and platelets. Red cells are used predominantly in treatments for cancer and blood diseases. Plasma provides proteins, nutrients and a clotting agent that is vital to stop bleeding. Platelets are tiny cells used to help patients at a high risk of bleeding. They also contribute to the repair of damaged body tissue.

How do I donate blood?

First, you’ll need to register as a blood donor with NHS Blood & Transplant. Next, you’ll receive a list of every blood donation session that’s in your area. Just choose your session, book an appointment and go to give blood.

You can donate 470ml of blood three times a year if you’re female, and four times a year if you are male.

Please call NHS Blood & Transplant on +44 (0) 300 123 23 23 to book your appointment. Please QUOTE Code R20 when booking your appointment.

Alternatively you can register online.

What happens when I give blood?

Each blood donation takes approximately 5-10 minutes. The rest of time is NHS Blood & Transplant staff taking extra special care of you. Have something to eat before you donate and drink plenty of fluids before and after donation – this will stop you feeling faint.

Changes to rules on blood donation will maintain the safety of the blood supply while allowing more people to donate.

Changes to the rules on blood donation in England come into force on 28 November 2017. The new rules will allow more people to donate blood, without affecting the safety of the blood supply.

The changes were announced in July, on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

Dr Gail Miflin, Medical and Research Director at NHS Blood and Transplant said:

The SaBTO review took into account the latest available medical and scientific evidence. This included more information about the risk of acquiring infections that can be passed on in blood, more evidence on how well donors comply with our guidelines and also more evidence that supports the reliability of the blood screening tests we use.

We have one of the safest blood supplies in the world. Anyone may require a blood transfusion in the future and so it’s in all our interests to ensure that we work hard to keep blood safe for patients.

Before every donation, all donors must complete a Donor Health Check and have a private health screening where they may be asked confidential questions based on their completed form.

Subject to meeting the other donation rules, the following groups will now be able to donate after 3 months have passed since the last sexual activity:

  • men who have had sex with another man
  • commercial sex workers
  • people who have had sex with a partner at high risk of having a sexually transmitted infection

Previously, commercial sex workers were permanently excluded from blood donation and the other groups had to wait until 12 months had passed before they could donate. The rules are now consistent for all groups that are deferred due to sexual behaviours.

Not eligible?

Don’t worry. There are lots of ways you can get involved with our lifesaving work besides this, such as donating stem cells, getting involved with fundraising or setting up a regular financial donation.