NHS Blood - Give Blood England and Wales

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FAQs

If you can't find an answer to your question you can contact us here.

My donor account

  • Q What is my Donor ID?

    When you register as a blood donor for the first time, you will be assigned with a unique Donor ID number. Entering this ID helps us to locate your records more quickly. Your donor number will be printed on your official donor card and any correspondence we send you.

  • Q What if I don't know my Donor ID?

    If you've forgotten or don't know your Donor ID, don't worry – we can still find your records by cross-checking your personal details against our database. Once we've confirmed your identity, your Donor ID will appear in the 'My Account' section of the Donor Portal, so you can access it at any time.

  • Q How do I find out my blood group?

    Your blood group, like your Donor ID, is printed on your official donors card. It will be determined after your first donation, and after you donate blood with us it should appear in the 'My Account' section of the Donor Portal.

  • Q How do I update my details?

    To update your personal details - such as your address or contact number - select 'personal details' from the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Once there you will be able to view and edit any personal information.

  • Q Can I log in with my Facebook or Twitter account?

    Yes, once you've registered you can log in via Facebook or Twitter for easier access to the Donor Portal. You can also share your latest donation on your timeline to encourage friends and family to sign up too.

  • Q How do I book an appointment online?

    Booking a blood donation appointment online couldn't be easier. Just locate your preferred venue or donation event by entering your city, town or postcode into our session finder. When you select a session, a list of available booking dates and times will be made available. Simply select a time that suits you and click 'book'. These appointments are updated in real time.

  • Q What does my appointment time mean?

    Your appointment time is the time we would like you to arrive at the session. There are a number of stages to your donation journey - registering your arrival, the Donor Health Check screening, your donation and your rest and refreshments. We aim to ensure that your whole donation journey lasts no more than one hour from your planned arrival time.

  • Q When I turn up to my appointment, will I be seen straight away?

    There are a number of different stages to your donation journey - registering your arrival, the Donor Health Check screening, your donation and your rest and refreshments.

    Your appointment time is the time we want you to turn up. We cannot commit to you going into the Donor Health Check immediately after registering your arrival as there are a number of factors that affect a session and we want to provide a safe and pleasant experience for all our donors. We commit to you finishing your donation journey within an hour of your appointment time.

  • Q Do I always need to book in advance?

    We try hard to cater for both donors who book an appointment in advance and donors who prefer to just walk into a session to donate. For most of our sessions we keep a number of slots available for walk-in donors. Whether or not a session caters for walk in donors will be clear when you look up the session on the session finder. You will see an icon under the session details and the text 'Available to walk in'.

    We try our best to accommodate all walk in donors and aim to give them an expected time for their total donation experience when they arrive.

  • Q What if I need to cancel or re-arrange an appointment?

    If you need to cancel or reschedule an existing blood donation appointment, simply go to your timeline and find the details of the appointment. Then click 'Reschedule' or 'Cancel appointment'. Your timeline will be updated immediately, and we'll send you an automatic email to confirm the changes you've made.

  • Q Why can't I book an appointment at certain times?

    We allow donors to give blood every 12 weeks if you're a male, or 16 weeks if you're female. The booking system will not allow you to book an appointment unless you are eligible to donate.

    If you're a new donor, you can only book one future appointment. Regular donors are able to book multiple appointments using the session finder.

  • Q Why does the donation history on my timeline only go back five years?

    We can only show certain specific donation history going back five years on the online system. However, the donation total highlighted at the top of the page and in the navigation menu represents your lifetime total to date.

  • Q How do I know if I'm able to donate blood?

    If you're aged between 17-66 for a first time donor or aged over 17 for a regular donor, haven't donated in the past 12 weeks, are in good health, you should be able to donate blood. If you have a medical or travel concern, select the 'Health' tab for more information on a wide range of conditions that may affect your ability to give blood.

  • Q How do I post my updates to Facebook and Twitter?

    When in the 'My Account' section of the donor portal, click the 'Social Sharing' tab to bring up your social media options. You can choose to automatically post an update to your timeline every time you book an appointment, or un-check the automatic update option to be prompted to share manually every time you book.

  • Q Why can't I use the Donor portal to book appointments in my area?

    Our blood donation sessions only operate in England and North Wales. If you live in another part of the United Kingdom such as Scotland, Northern Ireland or South Wales, we may not be able to provide session information in your area. However, we are happy to put you in touch with our sister organisations working in these areas, so please get in touch if you're not sure where to look.

  • Q What phones and tablets are supported?

    www.blood.co.uk has been implemented with standard HTML and is designed to respond to the screen resolution of the PC, Tablet or Phone accessing the web site. This provides a "Full Desktop" version or a "Mobile Optimised" version as appropriate. For phones and tablets this has been tested on the market leading operating systems (iOS and Android) and devices (iPhone, iPad, and Samsung S3 and S4 phones). If you experience any difficulties with these or any other operating systems and devices please feedback via the online Contact Form or call 0300 123 23 23.

Giving blood

  • QWho can give blood?

    Most people can give blood. If you are generally in good health, age 17 to 65 (if it's your first time) and weigh at least 50kg (7st 12Ib) you can donate. However, If you are female, aged under 20 years old and weigh under 65kg (10st 3lb) and are under 168cm (5'6) in height, we need to estimate your blood volume before donating.

  • QHow often can I give blood?

    Male donors can donate 4 times in 12 months with a minimum interval of 12 weeks between donations. We advise female donors to donate at an average of 16 weeks or more to reduce the risk of iron deficiency.

  • QHow much blood will be taken?

    Only about 470ml, which is just under a pint. Your body will replace the lost fluid in a very short period of time.

  • QHow long does it take to donate blood?

    For donors with an appointment, we aim to ensure that their donation journey lasts no more than one hour from their planned arrival time. We also aim to accommodate all donors who walk into a session without an appointment at sessions that accept walk in donors. However it is not always possible for us to do so and it may take longer for walk in donors to complete their donation journey with us than if you’ve booked an appointment. We commit to provide walk in donors with an expected time for their total donation experience when they arrive at the session.

  • Q Will I be asked a lot of questions before I give blood?

    We will ask you a number of questions, but we promise to get through it all as quickly as possible. Our primary concerns are that giving blood will not harm you in any way and that your blood will be safe for patients.

  • QHow will giving blood affect my health?

    If you are fit and healthy, you should not experience any problems whatsoever.

  • QWhy can women donate less frequently than men?

    Female donors do not have the same levels of stored iron as male donors for lots of reasons. This means that they cannot donate as often as their male counterparts as to do so could potentially put them at risk of anaemia and NHSBT will never risk the health of donors.

  • QIs it safe for men to donate more frequently?

    Male donors who give a whole blood donation can safely donate four times a year, as long as they wait twelve weeks between donations. This allows them to improve the lives of thousands more people every year! Allowing male whole blood donors to donate more often is a great step forward in meeting the 8,000 units needed every day to meet hospital demands.

  • QI have heard that the donor's ethnic origin is requested. Why does this matter?

    The ethnic origin of donors is medically important because it makes it easier for us to find and match blood for recipients with rarer blood groups. Secondly, the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 means that we have to monitor the accessibility of our services to all communities, including how well we provide opportunities to donate blood.

    All personal donor information remains confidential, and is seen and used only by our staff and those we work closely with in providing our services. If you prefer not to give us this information, please let us know so that we do not ask you again.

  • QI have heard that blood is used for research. Isn't it all needed by patients?

    When you come to give blood the leaflet you are asked to read tells you that occasionally blood that is not needed for transfusion may be used for research and development work to benefit patients. All such use is carefully controlled, ethically approved where appropriate and no donor is identified.

  • QI am a vegetarian, can I give blood?

    There is no problem with vegetarians giving blood. The red blood cells, which require iron from the stores in your body, will need to be replaced after the donation. Provided you eat a well-balanced diet sufficient in iron, then you should be able to replenish your iron supply before your next donation.

  • QHow do UK donation frequencies compare with other countries who have blood services?

    NHSBT is in line with countries such as Portugal who also allow men to donate 4 times and women 3 times a year. Although other countries like Belgium, Denmark and Germany allow all donors to give more often, NHSBT remains at the cautious end of the spectrum in order to protect the health of the donor and maintain our excellent record in blood safety.

  • Q Giving blood after acupuncture, tattoos or piercings

    There is always an infection risk whenever the skin is pierced. If you have had acupuncture or any complementary therapy involving penetration by needles, please wait 4 months from receiving any of these treatments.

    However, if your acupuncture was performed by NHS staff on NHS premises or was performed outside the NHS but by a qualified Health Care Professional, registered with a statutory body, then you may donate.

    Though your acupuncturist is voluntarily registered with a non statutory body, such organisations are not subject to supervision by the Council for Regulatory Excellence in Healthcare (CHRE).

    If you have had any body piercing including permanent and semi permanent makeup and tattooing, or acupuncture outside the NHS and not perfomed by a qualified Health Care Professional registered with a statutory body, please wait 4 months from your last piercing before donating. If your treatment was between 4 and 12 months ago, you must let us know as your donation will need an additional blood test.

  • Q Why are people who have or think they may have received a blood transfusion since 1980 no longer able to give blood?

    This step was implemented by all four of the UK Blood Services on 2nd August 2004. It is a further precautionary measure against the possible risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) being transmitted by blood and blood products.

    vCJD is thought to be the consequence of eating contaminated beef, related to BSE (or mad cow disease) in UK cattle after 1980. Fortunately, vCJD is very rare. But, there is evidence that vCJD may be transmitted from an infected blood donor to the patient, via transfusion.

Before and after giving blood

  • Q What can I do before and after giving blood?

    Be sure to eat at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluids before and after donating, but avoid alcohol.

  • Q Where does my blood go?

    Your blood will be taken to one of our blood centres up and down the country. To protect patients, your blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, certain other infectious diseases and syphilis.

    Once the blood has been sorted into its different types, and all the tests are clear, it is then distributed to hospitals to meet their predicted demand. There your blood is matched to a particular patient who requires a transfusion. View the current blood stock levels.

  • Q Can I smoke after giving blood?

    We advise that you refrain from smoking for about two hours after donating, as it might make you feel dizzy or faint.

  • Q Can I go back to work on the same day?

    Most people feel fine after donating and you can resume your normal activity as long as you feel well. But do avoid heavy lifting, pushing or picking up heavy objects for at least four hours after donating. However you should not give blood if you are undertaking a hazardous activity that day. This includes hobbies such as climbing, flying or diving or occupations, such as driving a crane, HGV or emergency services vehicle and certain building workers.

  • Q Can I exercise before or after giving blood?

    People who are planning to undertake exercise after giving blood should be advised that donation may affect their performance and may also increase the risk of bleeding from the venepuncture (needle entry) site and of other adverse events such as fainting. You may wish to wait until the following day so as to avoid any problems.

    Individuals who undertake sport at high levels of performance should be aware of both the short term effect of blood donation on performance and the possible long term effects if they should become short of iron. You may wish to seek specialist advice on how to avoid adverse affects on your performance from donation.

    If you have undertaken exercise before you donate, you will need to be recovered from the exercise and well hydrated in order to donate.

  • Q What if I develop an infection after I donate?

    If you become unwell within two weeks of your donation, or if you believe there is any reason why your blood should not be transfused to a patient, please call us on 0300 123 23 23.

  • Q What if I feel faint when I get home?

    You need to take it easy for a few hours after giving blood, but if you do feel faint or dizzy, lie down immediately with your legs raised. Ideally, let someone else know if you are feeling unwell. If faintness persists after your donation, don't hesitate to call us on 0300 123 23 23 to let us know and we will be able to advise you further.

Men who have sex with men and giving blood

  • Q Blood donation criteria for men who have had sex with men

    Men who have had oral or anal sex with men within the last 12 months can't donate blood. Men who haven't had oral or anal sex with a man in the last 12 months and who can meet the other donor selection criteria can donate.

    Some people ask us why these donation criteria exist and express to us their frustration if this means that they are not eligible to give blood.

    None of the criteria in place for blood donation are intended to be discriminatory. It is specific sexual behaviours rather than sexuality that increase the risk of virus transmission and drive the criteria. Ensuring donor and patient safety is at the heart of what we do. The processes we follow at our blood donation sessions are in line with blood donor selection criteria set by the Department of Health on the advice of independent experts.

    In the question and answer section below, we explain the reasons why this donation rule exists, how it was set and answer frequently asked questions about this area.

    You can also download a leaflet.

    We hope we have answered any questions you have.

  • Q Can a man who has sex with men donate blood?

    In the past men who had had sex with men were permanently excluded from giving blood. The criteria changed in 2011 following a review by the Government's independent Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). The new donor selection criteria were set by the Department of Health for NHS Blood and Transplant. A 12 month deferral period for men who have had oral or anal sex with another man was introduced.

    This means, if you are a man who has had oral or anal sex (with or without a condom) with a man within the last 12 months you cannot donate blood. However, if you haven't had oral or anal sex with a man in the last 12 months and can meet the donor selection criteria set out in the Donor Health Check, you can donate.

    The blood donor selection criteria are based on statistical risks for sexual behaviour associated with men who have sex with men rather than an individual's specific sexual history. It is specific sexual behaviours rather than sexuality that drive the criteria.

  • Q I'm safe as I'm in a stable monogamous relationship. Why can't I donate?

    The blood donor selection criteria set by the Department of Health are based on evidence and advice provided by the UK governments' independent Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). The donor criteria are based on statistical risks for sexual behaviour associated with men who have sex with men rather than an individual's specific sexual history or sexuality and there is a specific provision in the Equality Act 2010. We are sorry for any inadvertent offence this causes.

  • Q I always use condoms, why can't I give blood?

    Safer sex, through the use of condoms, does reduce the transmission of infections - but it cannot eliminate the risk altogether. Condoms have one of the highest success rates at preventing many sexually transmitted infections and they are made to strict standards, with a very low failure rate when used correctly. However, people do not always use them correctly and so reliance upon this method to reduce risk in higher risk groups is not considered sufficient.

  • Q How can it be fair to continue to treat all men who have sex with men as high risk?

    Men who have sex with men as a group have been shown to be at a statistically higher risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually acquired infections, including hepatitis B, in the UK.

    The donor selection criteria in place are based on statistical risks for sexual behaviour associated with that population group - men who have sex with men - rather than an individual's specific sexual history or sexuality.

    The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) advise that there is insufficient evidence available to be able to determine the impact on blood safety of introducing a system that assesses every individual's behaviour and level of risk rather than applying deferrals to groups. It is also not certain that all people could objectively assess their own level of risk.

    We appreciate that it can be disappointing for anyone who wishes to donate blood but is not able to meet the current donor selection criteria.

    We understand that the donor selection criteria around sexual activity can make someone feel as if they are being placed in a 'category', even if they feel that their own sexual behaviour and risk-taking would not be a risk to the blood supply.

    There is a small possibility that the tests we use to test blood donations before they are used to treat patients may not pick up infections, particularly those which have been recently acquired. Therefore, we must follow deferral rules that estimate risk based on behaviour. We are sorry for any inadvertent offence this causes.

  • Q Anyone can contract Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), so why aren't gay men allowed to donate?

    It is correct that anyone can contract a sexually transmitted infection. The blood donor selection criteria are set by the Department of Health based on advice provided by the UK governments' independent Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). The evidence shows that men who have sex with men have higher rates of blood borne viruses and other sexually transmitted infections. So SaBTO's advice is based on risks for sexual behaviour associated with men who have sex with men rather than an individual's specific sexual history.

  • Q HIV is not a 'gay disease'. Why discriminate against gay men?

    The blood donation selection criteria are not meant to be discriminatory. There are higher rates of HIV among men who have sex with men. The Department of Health agreed the 12 month deferral period based on the increased risk of sexual transmitted infections (STIs) and advice provided by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). This means if you are a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man in the last 12 months, you can't donate blood. We are sorry for any inadvertent offence this causes.

  • Q I'm a man who has had sex with another man in the last 12 months and I still want to donate blood. Should I just lie on the Donor Health Check?

    However frustrating the current donor guidelines are for you, please don't lie about your sexual history or any other question on the Donor Health Check. These questions are set to help us maintain a safe blood supply for donors and patients.

    For most infections, there will be a period of time between when you pick up that infection and when even the most sensitive test can detect it. This is known as the 'window period'.

    If you donate blood shortly after any behaviour that places you at risk of acquiring a blood-borne infection, there is a possibility that you might donate blood during this 'window period' - meaning the infection could still be transmitted via a blood donation.

  • Q Isn't there a risk of gay men who don't agree with the policy donating anyway?

    There is always that possibility for any of the blood donor selection criteria. But please don't lie about your sexual history or any other question on the Donor Health Check, however frustrating the current donor guidelines are for you. These questions are set to help us maintain a safe blood supply for donors and patients.

  • Q I have sex with men. You test donated blood so why can't I donate?

    For most infections there is always going to be a time between when you pick up that infection and when even the most sensitive test can detect it. Blood donors are not only tested but are also asked questions about activities that increase their risk of infection.

    The Department of Health and other UK Health Departments are responsible for setting blood donation selection criteria and base their decisions on advice provided by the UK governments' independent Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). SaBTO consider what we know about infections and the tests that we use.

    The Department of Health agreed with SaBTO's recommendations that if you are a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man in the last 12 months, you can't donate blood. If you haven't had oral or anal sex with a man in the last 12 months, you can donate providing you meet the donation criteria set out in the Donor Health Check.

  • Q What is an infection 'window period'?

    All blood donations are tested on every occasion for evidence of infection with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV), and syphilis. Additional tests may be carried out for past hepatitis B infection if a donor reports specific risks or believes that they may have had jaundice or hepatitis in the past. In addition, donations given by donors who are at increased risk of certain infections due to travel or residence in certain countries undergo specific testing, for example for Chagas' disease before their blood is released for use.

    There have been great advances in testing which have significantly improved blood safety in the UK in recent years. However, if a person donates blood during the 'window period', the infection may not be detected as the immune response may not yet be evident in the blood. This means the infection could be transmitted via a blood donation during this period even though it isn't detected by the test.

  • Q Why is the deferral period 12 months?

    We test every blood donation for evidence of infection with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV), and syphilis. Additional tests may be carried out for past hepatitis B infection if a donor reports specific risks or believe that they may have had jaundice or hepatitis in the past. In addition, donations given by donors who are at increased risk of certain infections due to travel or residence in certain countries undergo specific testing, for example for Chagas' disease before their blood is released for use.

    Although in recent years there have been great advances in testing which have significantly improved blood safety in the UK, if a person donates blood during the 'window period' the infection may not be detected but could be transmitted via a blood donation.

    The evidence reviewed by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) showed that men who have sex with men as a group continue to be at a statistically higher risk of contracting blood-borne viruses such as HIV and HBV in the UK. Due to the nature of HBV infection, and of the screening tests used, it is necessary to allow 12 months from any higher risk behaviour as this is long enough for the donor to have undergone and recovered from an infection. A deferral period of 12 months is considered sufficient to allow for the complete clearance of HBV in a recovered individual. Those individuals who do not recover from HBV infection will be detected by the screening tests.

    The blood donation selection criteria for men who have sex with men are in line with other groups that are deferred from blood donation for 12 months due to sexual behaviours. It is extremely important that people adhere to this and all other donor selection criteria so we can maintain a safe blood supply.

  • Q I've recently had a negative HIV test result and know that I am negative, so why can't I give blood?

    As there is a small possibility that the tests we use may not pick up recently acquired infections, we must follow deferral rules that estimate risk based on behaviours. We are sorry for any inadvertent offence this may cause.

  • Q Will the blood donation selection criteria related to men who have sex with men change in future?

    NHS Blood and Transplant is not responsible for the policy. The Department of Health and other UK Health Departments are responsible for setting blood donation selection criteria and base their decisions on advice provided by the UK governments' independent Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

    We understand that SaBTO has no plans to review the advice at this time. This means that there are no plans to introduce individualised risk assessments or to change the current criteria. However, we understand that SaBTO would re-evaluate if significant new scientific evidence becomes available.

  • Q I'm gay and have a rare blood type. Are patients missing out because I can't donate?

    We plan our sessions around the country so we can always collect enough blood with contingency and avoid blood shortages. You're right that there are some blood groups that are more vulnerable to stock shortfalls than other groups. But we are still able to constantly meet the needs of hospitals and patients across England and North Wales.

  • Q What are the donor selection criteria for men who have sex with men in other countries?

    A 2009 European Blood Alliance (EBA) survey of 23 blood services reported that 20 countries defer men who have sex with men permanently (or since 1977) and three countries (Latvia, Spain and Italy) reported that they have fixed period deferrals in place. For Latvia a deferral is used if indicated by individual assessment. For Spain a deferral of at least six months operates after a change of partner (heterosexual or men who have sex with men) with permanent exclusion for individuals with more than one sexual partner. In Italy a deferral of four months from the risk behaviour operates for multiple partners or change of regular partner. Finland has recently changed to a 12 month deferral.

    In Australia, Argentina and Japan, a 12 month fixed period deferral operates, and New Zealand has recommended a 12 month deferral which is awaiting approval. South Africa has recently changed from a six month deferral to an individual risk assessment. Canada now has a 5 year deferral in place. In the USA, men who have sex with men are permanently excluded. It should be noted that the evidence on which donor selection criteria are established include detailed epidemiological information about the extent of infection with blood-borne viruses in the local population, and the methods of donation testing in use. This is why policies can vary from country to country.

  • Q What are the other donor selection criteria related to sexual behaviour?

    A number of groups in addition to men who have sex with men are deferred or excluded from blood donation due to sexual behaviours which place them at an increased risk of acquiring a blood-borne virus. For more information about this, call 0300 123 23 23.

  • Q Why aren't promiscuous heterosexuals deferred or excluded from giving blood?

    We understand that the existing blood donation criteria can be frustrating to men who have sex with men who can't give blood. Especially if they feel they pose less risk than other groups, such as heterosexuals with multiple sexual partners.

    Men who have sex with men as a group have been shown to be at a statistically increased risk of acquiring blood-borne viruses in the UK. It is specific sexual behaviours rather than sexuality that increase the risk of virus transmission (anal or oral sex between men).

    Although some people would prefer a system that assesses every individual's behaviour and level of risk rather than applying deferrals to groups, SaBTO's review in 2011 concluded that there is insufficient evidence available to be able to determine the impact on blood safety of such a system. It is also not certain that all people could objectively assess their own level of risk.

    Based on published data, the review also concluded that the introduction of extensive donor questions regarding sexual behaviour could lead to a loss of existing donors who would be likely to find the process intrusive. This could make it more difficult for us to sustain the blood stocks hospitals need to treat patients.

    This means that we follow deferral rules that estimate the statistical risk of certain groups based on behaviour. We are sorry if this means you cannot donate blood and for any inadvertent offence this may cause. It is specific behaviours rather than sexuality that are behind the criteria.

Mobile App FAQs

IgA deficiency - information for donors

  • Q What is IgA?

    IgA is short for immunoglobulin A. Immunoglobulins are also called antibodies. Most IgA is found in secretions (eg tears, saliva and in the gut) with small amounts circulating in the blood.

  • Q What is IgA deficiency?

    This is the commonest antibody deficiency. Blood donors who have been found to have IgA deficiency have very low or absent levels of IgA. It appears in tears and saliva, as well as secretions in the lungs, bowel and genital tract.

    IgA deficiency is quite common and between 1 in 400 and 1 in 800 people lack IgA, depending on ethnic background. Almost all will be unaware that they are missing this antibody. We have found that around 1 in 700 blood donors lack IgA. The cause of this deficiency is not fully understood.

  • Q What do antibodies do?

    Antibodies form part of our immune system which helps to protect us against infection. IgA is one type of antibody and the others are IgG, IgM, IgD and IgE. Our immune system is also made up of many other protective factors including specialised proteins and white blood cells which help to prevent infection. These other immune factors are present in normal amounts in people with selective IgA deficiency.

  • Q Can I continue as a donor?

    Yes please. We will definitely want you to continue as a donor providing that you are well and fulfil all our usual eligibility criteria.

  • Q Do people with IgA deficiency have any symptoms?

    Most people with IgA deficiency will be unaware of this and are completely healthy.

    In a small number of people, IgA deficiency can be associated with repeated bacterial infections of the ears, sinuses and chest. If recurrent and severe infections have been a problem then you should see your GP to discuss whether further tests are needed.

    IgA deficiency can be associated with an increase in allergies and also in certain types of inflammatory arthritis. Being IgA deficient does not alter how these conditions are diagnosed and treated.

    IgA deficiency is also associated with an increased likelihood of coeliac disease. This is a bowel disorder, caused by an immune reaction to foods containing gluten which is found in wheat and other cereals.

  • Q Do I need to arrange an appointment with my GP?

    It will be useful to let your GP practice know that you have IgA deficiency so that this information can be added to your health record. We recommend that you provide them with a copy of the letter we sent to you.

    You do not need to arrange to see your GP unless you have had health problems.

    You do not need to have any further tests done concerning your IgA deficiency unless you have had repeated severe infections or other health concerns.

  • Q Do I need any treatment?

    If you are well then no treatment is required. IgA replacement treatment is not available and it is unknown whether this would be of any benefit to people with this deficiency.

  • Q Do I need to have clinical follow-up?

    People who are well and have no symptoms related to IgA deficiency do not need to be followed up by their GP or in a hospital clinic.

  • Q What if I ever need a blood transfusion in the future?

    Having an IgA deficiency does not mean you are more likely to need a blood transfusion.

    If you do need to be transfused you would be given standard blood components unless you have had a previous transfusion reaction.

    If you have had a transfusion reaction in the past you would still receive standard red cells but if plasma transfusion is needed you may be provided with plasma from another IgA deficient donor.

  • Q I haven't donated for some time - why are you telling me now?

    We became aware that not all donors with IgA deficiency had been informed of their results and we are now sending letters to donors to let them know this. We apologise for any delay there has been in providing you with this information.

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