It takes a staggering 6,450 people to donate blood every day just to keep patients and hospitals supplied in England and Wales.
Once donated, blood cannot be stored indefinitely, so a constant supply is necessary. Every year we need around 200,000 new donors in England alone.
As a doctor I know only too well how much we rely on blood for all aspects of medical use, not just emergencies, and that’s why I would urge you to donate if you can.
Generally, men can give blood every three months and women every four, and just short of a pint is taken. It is a simple, painless process.
Who can give blood?
Most people can be donors if they are fit and healthy, weigh over seven stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66. This can rise to 70 years if you have given blood before and within the past two years.
There are shortages of different types of blood at different times, so it’s important that we all do our bit, after all you never know when you or a family member may need it. It is estimated that in the UK one in four of us will need a transfusion at some point in our lives.
In particular there’s a shortage of donors from Asian and Black backgrounds and we need more. The best ‘match’ typically comes from blood donors who have the same ethnic backgrounds. At other times the blood services may be running out of a particular blood type, again another reason why we should all do our bit.
The whole process has been made easier if you can get online. All you need to do is type in your postcode and find the most convenient centre and make an appointment to suit you.
It takes roughly 30 minutes, including time for a drink and snack after you’ve given blood – the actual ‘giving blood’ bit can be as little as five minutes.
You will be given a health screening when you attend which includes taking a small amount of blood and testing it. You’ll then go to a donation chair where a needle will be inserted and connected to the ‘blood bag’.
You shouldn’t feel any discomfort or pain. Then you will be given a drink and a snack while you relax for 15 minutes or so before you can leave.
So why not help others or you never know, you may be helping your future self and give blood this week.