Blood Donor Month: Give Your Blood!

Alright, you're tired of hearing about vampires, blood, etc, but... January is Blood Donor Month, so Vampire Fans and Gothlings in the US and elsewhere take action!

Donating blood is always important, as it can save many lives. We've put together some basic information about how blood is used and who can donate. If you want to know more, visit the sites listed below.

How blood is used

  • Red cells - treatment of anaemia, when red cells break down in the newborn, sickle cell disease, to replace lost red cells due to blood loss in accidents, surgery and after childbirth.
  • Platelets - bone marrow failure, post transplant and chemotherapy treatments, and leukaemia.
  • Fresh frozen plasma - after obstetric loss of blood (which is usually childbirth), during cardiac surgery, and to reverse any anti-coagulant treatment, to replace clotting factors after massive transfusions or when they are not being sufficiently produced, such as liver disease.
  • Processed plasma - treatment of haemophilia, to help produce stronger antibodies against diseases like tetanus, hepatitis, chickenpox and rabies, it also helps generate anti-D, which is used for RhD negative pregnant women carrying RhD positive babies.
  • Additionally there is a protein called albumin contained in plasma, which is extremely beneficial for burn victims.
  • Blood transfusion - it is a procedure in which blood is given via an intravenous line into the blood vessels. The Top 10 Users of blood - Anaemia (medical) – 23%, Orthopaedics – 14%, Haematology – 15%, Gastro intestinal bleeding – 11%, General Surgery – 10%, Cardio thoracic surgery – 6%, Obstetrics & Gynaecology – 6%, Vascular surgery – 5%,  Urology – 3%.

Who can donate blood?

Most people can give blood. If you are generally in good heath, age 17 to 65 (if it's your first time) and weigh at least 7st 12Ib you can donate. You can give blood every 16 weeks, that's approximately every four months.

Who can't donate blood?

You should not give blood if:

  • You've already given blood in the last 12 weeks (normally, you must wait 16 weeks).
  • You have a chesty cough, sore throat or active cold sore.
  • You're currently taking antibiotics or you have just finished a course within the last seven days or have had any infection in that last two weeks.
  • You've had hepatitis or jaundice in the last 12 months.
  • You've had a tattoo, semi-permanent make up or any cosmetic treatments that involves skin piercing in the last 6 months.
  • You've had acupuncture in the last 6 months, unless this was done by the NHS or a regesitered doctor or nurse.
  • A member of your family (parent, brother, sister or child) has suffered with CJD (Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease).
  • You've ever received human pituitary extract (which was used in some growth hormone or fertility treatments before 1985).
  • You have received blood or think you may have received blood during the course of any medical treatment or procedure anywhere in the world since 1st January 1980.

You may not be able to give blood if:

  • You've had a serious illness or major surgery in the past or are currently on medication. Please discuss this with the clinical staff. The reason you're taking medicines may prevent you from donating.
  • You've had complicated dental work. Simple fillings are OK after 24 hours, as are simple extractions after 7 days.
  • You've been in contact with an infectious disease or have been given certain immunisations in the last four weeks.
  • You're presently on a hospital waiting list or undergoing medical tests.
  • You do not weigh over 50kgs (7st 12).
  • You should not give blood if you are pregnant or you are a woman who has had a baby in the last 9 months.
  • Wait 6 months after returning from a malarial area before giving blood. Please also tell us if you have visited Central/South America at any time. (Those who've had Malaria, or an undiagnosed illness associated with travel, may not however be able to give blood.)

You should never give blood if:

  • You have ever had syphilis, HTVL (Human T - lymphotorpic virus), hepatitis B or C or think you may have hepatitis now
  • You're a man who's had sex with another man, even safe sex using a condom. For more information click here.
  • You've ever worked as a prostitute.
  • You've ever injected yourself with drugs - even once.

You should not give blood for 12 months after sex with:

  • A man who has had sex with another man (if you're a female).
  • A prostitute.
  • Anyone who has ever injected themselves with drugs.
  • Anyone with haemophilia or a related blood clotting disorder who has received clotting factor concentrates.
  • Anyone of any race who has been sexually active in parts of the world where AIDS/HIV is very common. This includes countries in Africa.
  • Do not give blood if you even think that you need a test for HIV or hepatitis, or if you had sex in the past year with someone you think may be HIV or hepatitis positive.


More information in the US:

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