Ask the Experts - Summer 2022

Donations of blood, platelets and plasma are simple and easy ways to make an immeasurable impact to other people’s lives.

They are, however, still a marvel of modern medicine and it’s common for donors to have questions about the process.

Thankfully, our clinical experts are on hand with the answers…

What does the ‘NEO’ label on my blood bag mean?

Good news: if you’ve spotted a label on your blood bag with ‘NEO’ on it, your blood may be used to treat newborn babies.

The NEO label means that there was no evidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection when the donor’s blood was last tested.

(Picture: A NEO label on a blood bag)

CMV is a very common virus that around 50 to 60 per cent of adults in the UK have had, often in childhood. It can cause symptoms similar to the flu or sometimes no noticeable illness at all.

CMV can stay in the body even after recovery, but this does not have any significance for the person’s own health and their blood is safe to give to most patients.

But a newborn baby whose immune system is still developing must only be transfused with blood that lacks the cytomegalovirus. So, we label the bag with ‘NEO’ based on your previous result and, if the blood is needed for a newborn baby, it is tested again, because CMV status can change if there has been infection since the last test.

This helps us to be sure that we are providing the safest blood products for newborn patients.

Can I give blood after visiting the dentist?

It is usually okay to donate 24 hours after a check-up, scale and polish, or simple filling, but you will have to wait longer for some other treatments. Please check for the relevant procedure.

If you have had any infection, you will need to have been off any antibiotics for seven days and fully recovered for 14 days – whichever is longer. Any wounds from treatments you have had must have fully healed.

You may donate after receiving a local anaesthetic injection, providing you follow the guidance for the reason why you needed it in our Health and Eligibility knowledge base.