Expired: Why is blood donation crucial?

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Most people don’t think about needing blood, it’s only in times of emergency or if we were receiving treatment for an illness or condition that required transfusions that it would probably cross people’s minds asking ‘where does it come from?’

In the UK we have stocks or blood reserves set aside at hospitals for patients in need, there are four separate blood groups and stocks of each are required for patients. It’s not as simple as people having any blood, the four main types and the percentage of patients with these types are:

A: 42% of the UK population
B: 10% of the UK population
O: 44% of the UK population
AB: 4% of the UK population

These blood groups then separate down further into Rh-positive or Rh-negative, giving us eight blood types in total. All blood groups except for type O have the option to receive blood from one or more other blood groups, type O which is considered the universal blood group can only receive type O blood. Complicated? This graphic should help you understand blood groups a little bit more:

Why blood donation is important

In the UK January marks National Blood Donor month, and Cord blood collection and storage company Smart Cells, are raising awareness to encourage people to donate blood.

Each year the NHS Blood and Transplant service requires approximately 200,000 new donors, as some people who had previously donated no longer can. It’s so important for everyone who is eligible to give blood to consider doing so because building large stores of different types of blood means that there is always a surplus. So if there is a national emergency then as a country we could handle an influx of people requiring transfusions.

It is doubtful that in the UK we would run low enough on a specific blood type to cause a significant issue, but it’s always better to be prepared.

So can you donate?

There are health and eligibility criteria required to donate blood in the UK.

Sometimes it is just not possible for you to give blood, or you may have to wait a period to donate. Let’s look at some of the eligibility:

More than just blood donation

Most people in the UK who donate blood, donate whole blood, nurses take your blood in its entire form via a needle in your arm. It can then be kept in its original form or separated into its components, such as plasma and platelets and used as needed.

Different types of blood donation:

You always hope that you never need a blood transfusion, in the event of an accident or emergency where you lose a significant amount of blood, you would be given a transfusion of donated blood, however, what other scenarios are there that require a blood transfusion?

If you’re interested in knowing more about giving blood, the NHS website has a vast amount of information.

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Click Here to download the full Blood Guide.

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