Who can donate blood and how can you do it?

The NHS is faced with a some blood shortage of supply which led to the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) service delivering its first-ever amber-lert status.

The NHSBT says its blood stock is “critical” as it currently holds just over three days of blood stocks and only two days of type O blood. The service aims to hold more than six days of blood in stock.

Existing O negative and O positive donors have been urged to reserve donations as O negative is universal blood that can be used on any patient, including those who do not know their blood type.

The shortage means the NHSBT has asked hospitals to limit its use of its blood supplies and reserve it for the most urgent patients and treatments.

Wendy Clark, acting chief executive of the NHSBT, said in a statement: “Asking hospitals to limit their use of blood is not something we take lightly. This is an essential measure to protect the patients who need blood the most.

“Patients are our priority. I sincerely apologize to patients who may have their surgery postponed because of this.

To increase the supply, around 400 new blood donors are needed every day in the UK and, once collected, blood can be stored for up to 35 days.

Here’s what you need to know about donating blood.

Who can donate blood and why should you donate blood?

Criteria for those who are able to donate blood include:

  • Be generally fit and healthy

  • Be between 17 and 65 years old

  • Weighing less than 25 pounds and more than 7 pounds 12 pounds

  • Have “suitable veins” and meet the eligibility criteria, both of which will be verified onsite

Those who cannot donate blood include:

  • People who have had cancer

  • Those with heart problems

  • Those who have had blood transfers or an organ transplant

  • Those who have tested positive for HIV

  • Hepatitis B or C carriers

  • If you have injected non-prescription drugs into your body, including bodybuilding drugs and tanning agents

Donating blood means you can help people with anemia, those with cancerous blood disorders and those undergoing surgery.

Blood transfusions can be lifesaving for people with certain medical conditions or people undergoing surgery. It may even help improve the quality of life for people with terminal illnesses.

Where can you donate blood?

There are 23 permanent blood donation centers in the UK in several major cities. Mobile donor sessions are also held at churches or other community centers.

Around 400 new blood donors are needed every day in the UK (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

How to make an appointment to donate blood

You can book a blood donation onlinebut if you have not donated blood before, you must first register to donate blood.

Once connected, you can check the location closest to you and the best time for an appointment. It should be noted that the earliest you can get an appointment may be in a few weeks, as this will depend on demand.

Men can give blood every 12 weeks and women can donate every 16 weeks.

What you need to know about donating blood if it’s the first time

The NHS needs around 135,000 new donors every year.

If you wish to become a blood donor, you must first need to register your details and you will be asked some basic questions to see if you are eligible or not.

Once you have registered and reserved a time slot, be sure to arrive at the donation center on time if the appointment should take no longer than five to 10 minutes.

The NHS recommends drinking plenty of water before you arrive. If this is your first time donating blood, you will be asked a few questions and you will be scheduled for a private medical examination to ensure you have iron in your blood before donating.

Once you are ready to donate blood, you will be taken to a seating area where a needle will be inserted into your arm while you donate blood. The process is relatively painless and usually only takes a few minutes.

To learn more about donating blood, visit blood.co.uk

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