Once donated, blood cannot be stored indefinitely, so a constant supply is necessary.
Every year the NHS needs 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.
Currently, half of the nation’s donors are over 45, which means there’s a need for more young people to get involved.
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. 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 communities. The best ‘match’ typically comes from blood donors who have the same ethnic backgrounds.
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.
On the day of donation the appointment takes roughly 30 minutes, but 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 and give it a go? You never know when the favour might be returned.
Just visit the NHS Blood and Tranplant website to check your eligibility to donate or make an appointment.
Dr. Alexandra Phelan is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free, fast and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions.