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Give blood!

June 2017

doctor preparing patient's arm for donating blood

There is a World Blood Donor Day being held on June 14th. This is a global campaign organised by the World Health Organisation who work in over 150 countries with local governments trying to help people have better, healthier lives.

This year’s World Blood Donor Day is themed on “Blood connects us all” – and it is certainly something we all totally rely on. Over 6,000 blood donations every day are needed to treat patients across England alone...each year around 200,000 new donors are needed as some previous donors can no longer give blood.

A constant supply is required because blood can’t be kept for long periods. Blood has three main components, red cells, plasma and platelets. Red cells can only be stored for up to 35 days; platelets can only be stored for a week.  Plasma has a longer shelf life – up to 3 years.

So our medical services rely heavily on blood donors...and more are urgently needed. Blood can be vital for use in surgery and for people with certain medical conditions, and sometimes blood transfusions are used to improve the lives of people with an illness that has no cure.

Give BloodIf you have never given blood, it can be a bit daunting, but today the process is quick and so easy. 

Before you donate, there will be a screening process to check your blood donation will be safe for a patient to receive and your blood will be checked especially to see if it contains enough iron. This can involve just obtaining a tiny drop of blood from a finger...it is not an involved process.

Once that is done, then you can join thousands of British people who donate blood.

The system is friendly and quick. While you relax, a blood pressure cuff is popped onto your arm just to maintain a small amount of pressure during the donation. This is not used to measure blood pressure. Then a small area will be cleaned with an antiseptic sponge and a small needle will be inserted into a vein. This may sound frightening but you shouldn’t feel anything at all, there should be no discomfort even.

The donation usually takes between five and 10 minutes and then that is that. The needle will be removed but the pressure roll will often be kept on for a little longer. You will also have a small sticking plaster popped over the area which should be kept on for perhaps 6 hours after.

Once the procedure is completed, donors are usually offered drinks and snacks while they relax for 15 minutes or so.

Then that is it.

There are blood donor centres right across the UK, some permanent, some that open for perhaps two or three times a year in church halls and other local venues.

You can find out more at blood.co.uk


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