Give blood in England: How to become a blood donor and give blood for the first time to support NHS this winter

The NHS in England has renewed calls for donors with O negative and B negative blood types to come forward and book an appointment.

Stocks of both blood types have dropped, Give Blood NHS said on social media in January, leaving the service in particular need of these donations. Blood donors are being encouraged to book an appointment this week and support the NHS in saving lives this winter.

People with the blood type A negative are also being sought to donate platelets. That’s because platelets from donors with this blood type are safe to give to almost everyone, along with those from AB negative and A positive blood groups.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Donors of all blood types are invited to come forward and make an appointment to help those in need. Last-minute appointments sometimes become available in Give Blood’s city centre locations across the country, if there is a waiting list in your local area.

Advice on the service website added: “You can still help by booking an appointment in the weeks and months ahead - your donation will be just as valuable then.”

Thinking about giving blood for the first time in 2023? Find out more about how to sign up, who’s eligible and what to expect below.

Who is eligible to give blood?

There are a number of factors to determine whether or not you are eligible to give blood. Those who wish to donate need to be generally fit and well, aged between 17 and 65 and weigh between 7st 12lbs and 25st. Potential donors also need to have suitable veins – which will be checked beforehand – and meet other health, eligibility and travel criteria.

Can you support the NHS with a blood donation this winter?

Those who have had most types of cancers, have most heart conditions or received an organ transplant cannot give blood. Donors also cannot have tested positive for HIV, carry hepatitis B or C or travelled to and from certain countries.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Give Blood service has a full eligibility section online here.

How do I sign up to give blood?

If becoming a blood donor is appropriate for you, you can register online by filling in a form. The team can also be contacted via phone on 0300 123 23 23.

The Give Blood service is calling for donors to come forward to help the NHS this winter. Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty Images.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What happens when I go to give blood?

Before giving blood, donors should eat regular meals, drink plenty of fluids and avoid vigorous exercise. Prior to the appointment, a health check questionnaire should have been filled in.

On arrival at an appointment, donors will be given a 500ml drink of water before completing a health screening. If all is well, the donation can then go ahead.

The full 470ml blood donation usually only takes between 5 and 10 minutes to complete, with members of staff aiming to have the whole appointment – including the pre-donation checks and post-donation aftercare – completed in around an hour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Drinks and snacks will be available in a refreshment area, where donors are advised to relax for at least 15 minutes afterwards. They should consume two drinks to ensure they are rehydrated.