Don’t Just Give Up - Give Blood

Thursday, 29 Dec 2016

A new online survey* carried out by NHS Blood and Transplant, found that 70% of 2,126 adults aged 16-79 in England did not make a New Year’s resolution in 2016.  Why not do things differently this year? In 2017, instead of giving something up, people are being asked to give, by becoming a blood donor and helping save lives.

By giving up just one hour of your time you could save or improve up to three lives. Proud (43%), helpful (42%) and happy (38%) are the top three words people chose to describe how they feel after their most recent donation.**

The survey highlights confusion and myths about who is able to donate. Of the 2,126 adults surveyed, 20% believed it was true that having a tattoo would prevent them from donating, 16% felt the same about piercings, 15% believed that you can’t donate if you smoke and 3% thought vegetarians wouldn’t be able to donate. ***

We urge potential donors to check the donation criteria on the blood.co.uk website. While people currently need to wait four months after a new tattoo or piercing, there are no specific criteria preventing smokers or vegetarians from donating. Many people who believe they can’t donate, may discover they can.

NHS Blood and Transplant always needs first time donors to replace those who can’t donate any more, and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to meet patient needs.

More than half of our current blood donors are aged over 45 so it’s especially important that we recruit younger people to donate blood now and in the years to come. By becoming a blood donor you can help ensure that patients have access to the blood they need, when they need it.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs donors from all blood groups and communities but is particularly looking for new donors from black and Asian communities, and donors with the universal blood group O negative.

Less than half of people*** who signed up to give blood in January 2016 went on to donate during the year. Anyone who has registered to donate but hasn’t given blood yet, is encouraged to make 2017 the year they start saving lives.

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The New Year has traditionally been a time when people think about giving things up. This year we’re asking people to make a new kind of resolution and register to give blood. Or if you’ve already done so but haven’t managed to donate, we’d love to welcome you to one of our sessions in 2017. It’s easy to sign up to become a blood donor and book an appointment, online, via an app or on the phone. Each donation can potentially save up to three lives. In 2017 don’t just give up, give.”

In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.

If you’re already a blood donor, why not look into whether you could become a platelet donor. We particularly need donors with the A negative blood group as they can help any patient, regardless of blood type. One platelet donation can help up to three adults or twelve babies or children.

It’s quick and easy to register to become a blood donor, visit ww.blood.co.uk, download a give blood app, search 'NHSGiveBlood' in the app store or contact 0300 123 23 23. You can donate platelets at your nearest donor centre. If you already give blood, ask about platelet donation at your next appointment.

Ends

  • For additional information please contact the NHS Blood and Transplant press office on 01923 367600 or via pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk
  • For out of hours enquiries please call: 0117 969 2444

* NHS Blood and Transplant interviewed 2,126 adults aged 17-69 in England using an online omnibus. Interviewing took place between 6th and 9th December 2016, with fieldwork quotas set on age, gender region. The sample was further balanced according to social grade and working status, with the sample data weighted to known population profiles.

** 211 online adults aged 17-69 in England who have given blood in the past 2 years

*** NHSBT data. Only 46% of people who registered to give blood between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2016 went to do donate.

Notes to editors

  • NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • We are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells.
  • Our work would not be possible without our donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others.
  • To find out more visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
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  • Blood donors can search for sessions, book appointments, change/cancel their appointments and change their contact details in real time at www.blood.co.uk
  • There are apps available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices which enable donors to search for sessions based on their location and book and manage appointments.
  • Our donor line - 0300 123 23 23 -is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with all calls charged at the standard local rate, even from mobile phones
  • NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.6 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England. It’s important that we collect the right amount of each blood group at the right time to meet patient needs. 
  • There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. Group O is the most common and therefore the most in demand. A regular supply of blood is vital – red cells last 35 days and platelets only 7days
  • The overall demand for blood is falling by 3-4% per year.  This is due to improvements in clinical practice and is a trend that is being seen around the world. The drop in demand for blood is also thanks to our work with hospitals to ensure blood is used appropriately for patients.
  • We need just under 200,000 new blood donors each year to replace those who no longer donate for reasons such as ill health, pregnancy or foreign travel and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future
  • Some blood groups, such as O negative (the universal blood group), A negative and B negative are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls. So we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can.  We also need more black African, black Caribbean, mixed race and South Asian people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients
  • Female whole blood donors can give blood every 16 weeks, while male blood donors must wait 12 weeks between donations. Platelets can be donated every 2 weeks.
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