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 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.

  • 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 maybe 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.

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 your 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.

Giving blood and medication/illness

  • Q What if I take medication?

    Do tell us if you are on any kind of medication whether from your doctor or over the counter from your pharmacist, internet or health shop. Some of these may affect your blood and may mean we cannot take your donation. For more information please call 0300 123 23 23.

  • Q What if I have taken painkillers?

    If you are a platelet donor, you may not donate for five days after taking aspirin, Piroxicam or aspirin-containing drugs. If you have taken non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Nurofen or Ibuprofen, then you must wait 48 hours.

  • Q I have started taking 75mg of aspirin a day to thin my blood and help prevent heart attacks. Will this affect my ability to donate blood?

    You may be able to donate blood, however aspirin may affect platelet function so your donation will not be used for preparing platelets. That is why it is always important to let us know if you are taking any over the counter medication regularly.

  • Q I gave up smoking and I am on anti-smoking treatment, will I still be able to give blood?

    Some smoking cessation therapies can cause dizziness and nausea. If you suffer from any such symptoms, we suggest you only give blood once those symptoms have passed. However, if you are on anti-smoking treatment and feel well, then you should be able to donate. Please inform the staff on session that you are taking anti-smoking treatment.

  • Q I sometimes take tranquillisers. Does this prevent me from giving blood?

    The session medical staff will need to see what medication you are on, so bring it with you. The nurse or doctor may have a quick chat with you about your medication and any underlying condition, but in the vast majority of cases tranquillisers do not stop you from giving blood.

  • Q I suffer from varicose veins. As blood is carried around my body through my veins am I able to give blood?

    Providing you are otherwise fit and healthy you will still be able to give blood and donating will do you no harm. However, if you have had recent treatment or have active inflammation, ulceration or thrombosis this may temporarily exclude you. This is for your safety and to prevent any infection being passed to a patient.

  • Q Can I give blood during my period?

    It is OK to donate while having a period. However, the combination of blood loss from periods and donation will make iron deficiency anaemia more likely, particularly if the periods are heavy or prolonged. This effect can be minimised by taking supplemental iron.

    If you feel unwell because of your period you should not donate, but if period pain is well controlled by medication you may donate. If you are a platelet donor, you may not donate for five days after taking aspirin, Piroxicam or aspirin-containing drugs. If you have taken non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Nurofen or Ibuprofen, then you must wait 48 hours.

Special circumstances

  • 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 What is your donation policy for men who have sex with men?

    Men who have had sex with men (MSM) are no longer permanently excluded from giving blood. This has changed to a 12-month fixed period deferral from the latest relevant sexual contact following a 2011 evidence-based review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

    Men whose last sexual contact with another man was more than 12 months ago will be able to donate, subject to meeting the other donor selection criteria. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have implemented the change at blood donation sessions across England and North Wales. The Scottish and Welsh Blood Services have also implemented the changes.

  • 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.

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