When I visited the blood donation clinic earlier this week, I was congratulated for making my seventh donation and couldn’t help but feel so proud of myself for this achievement.
Seven may only seem like a small figure in the bigger picture, but seven donations could save the lives of up to 21 people!
I believe awareness needs to be raised and more people should be encouraged to donate blood. Of course, some people may be unable to donate due to personal reasons or health conditions. However those who are able to should really consider doing so. I promise it’s not as scary as you may think!
The Welsh Blood Service states that the majority of people in Wales are eligible to donate, however they are struggling to meet demand from hospitals, especially due to the short shelf life of blood. In fact, in Scotland, only 3% of eligible people regularly give blood.
Throughout medical history it has been proved that blood and its byproducts have played a vital role in saving lives. The blood collected from donors is not just used for accident and emergency victims; so many other patients would not survive without blood transfusions. This includes leukemia and cancer patients, and premature babies.
NHS England reports that each year they need approximately 200,000 new donors, as some donors can no longer give blood due to changes in their health and their age.
Around half of NHS England’s current donors are over 45, so along with the blood donation services in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, they are encouraging young people over the age of 17 to start giving blood regularly to ensure the future of these vital services.
Donating blood has benefits for both your mental and physical health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, helping others can:
- Reduce stress
- Improve your wellbeing
- Help get rid of negative feelings
- Provide a sense of belonging and reduce isolation
Regular blood donation is also known to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack, due to reduction of the blood’s viscosity and significantly decreases cholesterol, protecting donors against cardiovascular conditions.
Why Give Blood?
- Appointments are regularly available at times to suit all lifestyles (e.g. evenings and weekends) and can often be booked online.
- You can give blood at specialised clinics or you can attend temporary bus clinics which travel around to convenient locations (You may even see one in your place of work or study).
- The clinic staff are so friendly and encouraging; they make you feel really appreciated for your generosity.
- Your blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and HTLV (Human T Lymphotropic Virus) and you will be informed if any of these tests come back positive.
- A finger prick test is also carried out before your donation to check your haemoglobin (iron) levels.
- You will have the opportunity to find out your blood group.
- Free tea, coffee and biscuits (Need I say more?!)
Just think of the huge difference we could all make to other people’s lives and to the NHS as a whole if everyone who is healthy and able to donate did so on a regular basis.
In order to give blood you must be in good health, over 17 years old and under 66 years old, and you must weigh at least 50kg (7 stone, 12 lbs). Every time you visit a clinic to donate, the staff will check that there are no reasons they are not able to take a donation from you for both your own safety and the safety of any patients who may receive your blood.
Your donation will take between 5 and 10 minutes, with 475ml (just under a pint) of blood taken, alongside additional small samples for testing.
Male donors can donate blood every 12 weeks while female donors must wait a minimum of 16 weeks.
Please consider helping these fantastic services by registering as a donor on their websites: