Who can give blood?
Giving blood is a quick and easy way to do something rewarding that could potentially save lives. It’s safe, almost painless, and fortunately, a lot of people are eligible for blood donation.
If you’ve been thinking of giving blood but are unsure if you’re eligible or safe to do so, there’s no time like the present to get clued up on blood donation and donate as soon as you can.
Why give blood?
First off, what are the important reasons you should give blood?
The simple reason is that giving blood saves lives. In surgery or a medical emergency when a person is losing a lot of blood, the hospital has a bank of blood on hand to deliver it intravenously and replace this loss - this is known as a blood transfusion.
It is also used in the treatment of cancer, anaemia, and blood disorders. Blood donation not only saves lives but also improves the quality of life of many people living with a condition such as these.
Without having blood readily available, this puts many people’s lives at risk. According to the NHS, they need 400 new blood donors per day to meet the demand.
The demand for blood is constant, and your donation will always be welcomed.
Who is safe to give blood?
Generally, if you’re fit and healthy you should be eligible to give blood, but there is a criteria to meet and you will need to have a health screening prior to your donation.
If you weigh between 7 stone 12lbs and 25 stone, you’re aged 17 to 66 or are over 70 who has given a blood donation in the last 2 years, you’re eligible to give blood providing none of the below exemptions apply to you.
Who should not give blood?
There may be a time in your life when you cannot give blood, and there are some people who will never be able to donate blood in their lifetime.
For example, if you are HIV positive or are receiving treatment for HIV you will never be able to give blood. This is because HIV is a blood-borne virus and there is a risk of transmitting this virus to other people through blood transfusion, etc.
All blood is screened for blood-borne viruses such as HIV, but this only picks up HIV that was acquired more than 3 months ago. There is a possibility that a person could have been infected with HIV in the 3 months prior to blood donation and not show up as positive during testing.
Rest assured, blood donation in the UK is very safe, one of the safest in the world in fact. To avoid the possibility of someone giving blood who has HIV but is not showing a positive test because the infection may be so recent, you will be asked questions regarding your sexual behaviour before donating blood.
You will be treated sensitively and all answers will be confidential. It’s important to be honest when answering these questions as this ensures blood donation remains a safe process. If you’ve had sex in the last 3 months with a new partner, a previous partner that you’ve restarted a sexual relationship with or multiple partners, and it was anal sex, you will not be eligible to give blood. It doesn’t matter if the sex was protected with a condom.
This also applies if you have taken part in chemsex activity or if you are being treated for gonorrhoea.
Other lifetime exemptions from blood donation include:
- You are a carrier of hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- You are HTLV positive (Human T-cell lymphotropic virus)
- You have syphilis, even if it is treated
- You have injected drugs yourself or someone else has injected drugs into your body. Always inform your blood donor carer of any drugs that have been injected into your body whether prescribed or unprescribed
Wait at least 3 months before donating blood if you’ve taken part in the sexual activity mentioned above, that is; sex with a new partner, multiple partners, anal sex protected or unprotected.
Also, if you’re taking the drug PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) which is taken to prevent HIV infection if you’re at risk, you should not donate blood and you should wait at least 3 months after stopping PrEP to be a safe blood donor. The same applies if you’re taking PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), which is taken after possible exposure to HIV.
How to give blood
The process of giving blood is quick and as simple as possible to encourage people to donate. Something that takes little time and can save lives? Sign us up!
If you’re apprehensive about the whole thing, let us explain a little bit about how to go about it and what to expect to put your mind at ease.
First of all, you can sign up to give blood, here. You will need to enter some personal details and answer a few questions before getting an appointment.
On the day of blood donation, you’re advised to eat and drink regularly. You’ll be given plenty of information about blood donation and safety, and you will have a private health screening to answer some questions that we mentioned earlier in the guide.
During your donation, you will be made to feel as comfortable as possible. A small amount of pressure will be placed on your arm in the form of a blood pressure cuff. Before the needle is inserted into the vein to take the blood, the area will be wiped clean with antiseptic. It takes around 5-10 minutes to make the donation and afterwards you will be given time to relax and enjoy some refreshments.
It couldn’t be easier!