The 14th of June marks World Blood Donor day, serving as a key reminder that it is more vital than ever to give blood to help others. 6,000 blood donations a day are needed to help patients in England, and a lack of new donors means stocks are depleting. If you’ve never given blood before because you are nervous or unsure, understanding more about the process could alleviate your concerns and help give you the push you need to become a much-needed blood donor.
Blood donation in the UK
As the population of the UK grows, more blood donations are needed to meet the demand, but currently, the number of blood donors in the UK is falling.
According to the NHS, 200,000 new donors are needed each year in order to gather the amount of blood required, as well as to replace the existing donors who are no longer able to give blood. Even though most people between 17 and 65 are able to give blood, around half of current donors are over 45, with young donors urgently needed to ensure that blood supplies in the future are secured. There is currently a call for different types of blood from different blood groups. Those who are black, Asian or from minority ethnic communities are also sought to ensure there are enough supplies of specific blood groups.
What happens when you give blood?
Before you give blood, it’s important to make sure that you have eaten, are hydrated and have not just completed vigorous exercise.
- When you arrive, you’ll be given a welcome leaflet which will explain details about blood safety as well as the benefits of giving blodd.
- You will be given fluid before you begin your donation to ensure you stay hydrated both during and after.
- You’ll be given a health screening, where your identity and eligibility to give blood will be confirmed. This will involve answering questions about any conditions or illnesses you have or have had, your recent travel and other questions. If you are unable to donate on this occasion, you will be told why and when it will be possible for you to return.
- Your iron levels will be checked using a finger prick test. If your results are borderline, you may require further checks to make sure it’s safe for you to donate.
- After passing the checks, you’ll be taken to a donation chair and set up to donate. This involves the application of a blood pressure cuff to apply light pressure throughout the donation.
- The nurse will find a suitable vein and insert a needle to begin donation. You may experience some discomfort at this stage but no more so than any other injection.
- A donation takes just 5-10 minutes to complete, and the agitator scale used to measure your donation will stop when the donation is complete. The needle will then be removed and you’ll be given a dressing which you’re advised to keep on for around 6 hours.
- You’ll be encouraged to rest after the donation and to have some refreshments, which will be offered to you after your donation.
- You are advised not to take a hot bath on the day you donate.
There is a lot less involved in the process than you may have realised, and with the main part of the donation over in just 5-10 minutes, it doesn’t take much time or effort to give blood if you’re healthy and able to do so.
Where to donate
Over the next month there are several location you can give blood around East Berkshire. These include:
15th June – Wokingham, Fire Station Easthampstead Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 2EH
18th June – Ascot, South Ascot Church Hall Church Road, Ascot, Berks SL5 9DP
29th June – Yeovil Road, Owlsmoor, Sandhurst, Berkshire GU47 0TF
14th July – Bracknell, Priestwood Community Centre Priestwood Court Road, Bracknell, Berks RG42 1TU
You can make an appointment at these locations here.
Blood donation is especially important for the emergency services. By giving blood you are helping others in your community as well as those across England and overseas who are in desperate need of blood donations. The latest available figures from 2014 show that blood donations were used for the following purposes.
- 67% was used to treat medical conditions including anaemia, cancer and blood disorders
- 27% was used in surgery, including cardiac surgery and emergency surgery
- 6% was used to treat blood loss after childbirth
The Give Blood service from the NHS has more in depth information about blood donation, who is eligible and where you can make an appointment. Spread the message about World Blood Donor day on the 14th of June using #GiveBlood on social media and share your experiences with others.