Who can give blood?
DONATING blood can be an amazing gift to people who desperately need for on-going medical treatment or in an emergency.
But who exactly is eligible to provide a donation? Here is all you need to know…
Who can give blood?
Most people are eligible to give blood.
You can donate if you are:
- fit and healthy
- weight more than 7st 12lbs or 50kg
- are aged between 17 and 66 (or 70 if you have given blood before)
- are over 70 and have given blood in the last two years
Men can donate more often than women can.
And as of today rules have come into place so that more gay and bisexual men can donate blood.
NHS Blood and Transplant said that men will no longer be asked if they are a man who has had sex with another man, when being screened for donation.
Instead, those wishing to donate will be asked if they have had sex and about their recent sexual behaviours.
Until today men who have sex with men had to wait three months before donating.
Are there any restrictions on donating blood?
According to Diabetes UK, some Type 2 diabetes sufferers are now eligible to give blood as long as they have no other complications.
For instance, if your diabetes has resulted in eye, blood vessel or kidney problems then you are not advised to donate blood.
However if your condition is being well controlled through a combination of diet and oral medication, then you may well be able provide the service.
You are not able to donate blood during your pregnancy, and if you had a blood transfusion during your pregnancy or at a previous delivery you cannot become a donor.
Tattoos or body piercings
You may not be able to donate if your tattoo has been done within four months.
The same goes for body piercings and other non-medical injections.
Although a survey found that 15 per cent of people believed smoking means you can’t donate, this isn’t correct.
There are no specific criterea preventing smokers from donating.
You must be completely healed from any infection for at least 14 days before you can donate.
If you have a cold or are feeling under the weather, it is best to wait until you feel better before taking part.
If you have had antibiotics, you may need to wait a period of time before you can give blood.
Some conditions mean you are unable to give blood.
Click here to check the eligibility of a condition.
Anyone who has had anal sex with a partner or with multiple people in the last three months won’t be able to give blood, but might be able to at a later date.
When you go to donate blood, just under a pint – around 470ml – will be taken at a time[/caption]
How often can I give blood?
Men can give blood every 12 weeks, while women can donate every 16 weeks.
This is because it takes several weeks for all the red blood cells to be replaced in the body.
Over 6,000 people are needed to donate each day to meet the needs of hospitals, and currently there is a drive for black donors to donate to help black patients with sickle cell disease.
To make an appointment to donate your blood at the nearest centre, click here.
How much blood can you donate?
When you go to donate blood, just under a pint – around 470ml – will be taken at a time.
Your body will replace any lost fluid in a short period of time.
You will be provided with 500ml of fluid before you donate, and drinking this over around five minutes is said to help with your well-being.
What happens when you give blood?
Appointments to give blood typically last no longer than an hour.
1. Welcome and preparation
You will be given a leaflet to read and 500ml of fluid to drink just before you give blood. You’ll be asked to drink it over a five-minute period to help ensure you don’t feel faint or nauseous after donating.
2. Health screening
NHS staff will make sure it is safe for you to donate, and that your blood is safe for a patient to receive
3. Giving blood
Once you are comfortable in a chair, staff examine your arm to find a suitable vein and clean it with antiseptic.
A needle will then be inserted into your arm, which will be used to collect your blood into a blood bag with your unique donor number.
You shouldn’t feel any discomfort or pain.
If you do, tell a member of staff.
A scale is then used to weigh the blood you have donated, and stops when you’ve given 470ml.
This usually takes between five and ten minutes.
The needle is then removed and a dressing is put on your arm.
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How long does it take to give blood?
The entire process takes about one hour and 15 minutes.
The actual donation of a pint of whole blood unit takes eight to 10 minutes.
Can you drive after giving blood?
People are allowed drive after giving blood.
However donors should wait at least a half an hour before getting behind the wheel.
The NHS reccomend you should keep the pressure dressing on your arm for about 30 minutes after you have given blood, and the plaster on for 6 hours.
To find out more visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website.
Based in Johannesburg, Brian Derenberger is a Senior Editor at Healthy Organic Lifestyle.