This is how to know if you're eligible to give blood

By Rhona Shennan
Tuesday, 11 June, 2019, 14:01
Do you know your blood type? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Members of the public are being urged to register as blood donors to ensure that blood banks retain a safe quantity of blood supply.

National Blood Week is also in full swing, running until Sunday 16 June.

But do you know the rules around whether or not you can donate blood?

Giving blood

There are a lot of rules and regulations around when you can give blood depending on external circumstances.

The NHS Blood website outlines the guidelines regarding donating blood. Some frequently asked questions regarding a person's eligibility to donate include:

Can I donate blood if...

I have a cold? It’s recommended that if you’re unwell, it’s best to wait until you’re back to feeling 100 per cent before donating.

I’ve travelled outside of the UK? Different areas around the globe might require you to wait a set amount of time before donating blood. You can use this travel checker to see if one of your globetrotting adventures requires a wait time.

Have a tattoo or piercing? You need to wait for a minimum of four months from the date of your tattoo or piercing - this includes semi-permanent makeup, like microblading - before you donate.

I’m gay? Men who have had sex with other men, regardless of using a condom, need to wait three months before donating blood. This also applies to women who have had sex with a man who has had sex with other men.

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What happens after I give blood?

One you’ve donated blood, it is transported as quickly as possible to a processing and testing lab, where it is split into three components - red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Because the donation is separated into its three component parts, a single donation has the capacity to help up to three people.

All donations are also tested for viruses such as HIV and hepatitis, which can be passed from the donor to the patient through the blood. It is rare for a donation to test positive, but if it does, the donor is contacted as soon as possible.

If everything is in order, each pack of blood is then labelled and placed into controlled storage, ready to be distributed to hospitals.

Blood only has a shelf life of 35 days and platelets can only be used for up to seven days after donation - plasma that has been frozen can be kept for up to three years.

Blood types

There are eight major blood types. These are:

O-A-B-AB-O+A+B+AB+

Different blood types can help a variety of patients - they don’t always need to match. O- is referred to as the universal donor, as an O- donation can be issued for a patient with any blood type.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News