How to Donate Your Blood to Help Others

World Blood Donor Day – June 14th 2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have never given blood, but I intend to. I don’t really have a reason why I haven’t done it up until now (I’m 41). For quite some time I believed that because I have quite a lot of tattoos that I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to (somebody told me this once) – turns out this only applies for the first 12 months (4 months in Scotland) after you’ve had a tattoo and eligibility for giving blood also depends on the use of sterile needles when getting tattooed – thankfully I can tick both of these boxes.

Whilst I have no particular aversion to needles or the sight of blood, when I have had blood taken in the past I have often felt nauseous and feint; I think this could be a physiological reaction rather than a psychological one as having blood taken doesn’t bother me…and so I am currently working on finding out how I can limit these reactions to enable me to give blood to help others. This feels like an important thing to do and something that so many people can do – it saves lives! (and has health benefits for the donor).

For accident victims, Cancer patients, those undergoing surgery, women who experience complications during pregnancy and child birth and many many more, a blood transfusion is a life changing/saving treatment.

It is estimated that the NHS require 1.6 million units (pints) of blood every year. To enable this to happen, 200,000 donors are required annually. Can you help?

Who can give blood?

According to ‘Give Blood’ you can do just that if you meet the following criteria:-

  • are fit and healthy
  • weigh between 7 stone 12 lbs and 25 stone, or 50kg and 160kg
  • 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
  • Have completed a health check questionnaire – this considers habits such as smoking, if you have tattoos and when you got them etc.
  • Have completed a health screening – a drop of blood is tested for iron levels from a pin prick on the finger.

Common things to consider that may STOP you from giving blood:-

  • if you are receiving medical or hospital treatment
  • if you are taking medication
  • after travelling outside of the UK
  • after having a tattoo or piercing
  • during and after pregnancy
  • if you feel ill
  • if you have cancer
  • after receiving blood, blood products or organs.

For more information about recent changes to the ‘giving blood’ criteria, take a look here.

How often can I give blood?

Men can give blood every 12 weeks and women every 16 weeks – this allows time for the red blood cells to replenish.

How much blood will I need to give?

Approximately 470ml (just under a pint) at each donation – UK. It usually takes around 5-10 minutes.


The procedure! Or, what to expect on the day:

Check out this short video made by the NHS – it tells you exactly what to expect when you give blood.


What are the health benefits (to the donor) to giving blood?

  • It reduces the risk of hemochromatosis – a health condition that arises due to excess absorption of  iron by the body.
  • Blood donation can lower the risk of Cancer.
  • It helps maintain a healthy heart and liver.
  • Regular blood donation can encourage weight loss which may be helpful yo those struggling with obesity.
  • It can help a person feel good about themselves knowing that they have helped others – thus reducing stress.
  • (sources: ‘Medical News Today’ and ‘Organic Facts’.)

If you live in England or Wales you can register to give blood here. If you live in Scotland you can register to give blood here.


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