While both donating and receiving blood is extremely safe, these procedures do have potential risks. So we are constantly assessing and managing these risks, balancing them with the benefits to patients and donors.
Safety doesn't begin and end at our blood centres - hospitals, patients and donors have a role to play as well.
The Donor Health Check (DHC) is designed to helps us spot potential problems for donor and patient. Together with the medical screening we carry out at every session, we can assess if it's safe for someone to donate that day.
The DHC is our first line of defence. That's why it's crucial that you read this each time because our safety rules or your personal circumstances may have changed. Our next line of defence is ensuring our staff follow best practice guidelines on things such as arm cleaning. And of course, back in our labs we test every donation to pick up any dangerous infections.
Our scientists check every donation for a number of different infections. Very occasionally the tests fail to detect one that is present, especially if it's very recent. The blood may be infectious to a patient, but our tests could not find the infection (it's called the window period). That's why the DHC questions are so vital to help us spot the risk.
Thanks to these questions, processes and tests, the main risk from a blood transfusion is not an infection but being given blood of the wrong blood group.
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Tiny baby Keira needed dozens of transfusions to help her survive a rare blood disease...