Blood donations are an essential part of our healthcare system. Without blood donations, many of the medical procedures that we take for granted could not take place. Doctors and surgeons rely on blood donations to carry out a wide variety of life-saving and life-enhancing treatments every day.
More blood donors are needed
In 2009, 2.1 million blood donations were collected from 1.6 million donors in England. While the figures may appear to be large, this only represents 4% of the population. In recent years, the number of active donors has fallen by around 6%.
In England, around 8,000 blood transfusions are carried out every day. Therefore, the need for blood donations remains high.
As blood can only be safely stored for a relatively short time, hospital blood stocks need to be continuously refreshed. For example, red blood cells can only be stored for 35 days and platelets (the part of the blood that helps prevent excessive bleeding) can only be stored for five days.
In particular, blood donations are needed from black and Asian people because the current levels of black and Asian donors are very low. Certain ethnic groups often require certain blood types, so having a range of donations from a wide range of ethnic groups is a more effective way to meet the potential demand for blood.
The National Blood Service
In England, the blood donation process is overseen by the National Blood Service. The National Blood Service relies on voluntary donations from the general public to keep the service running. Donating blood is a relatively quick procedure (it usually takes less than an hour) and is virtually painless.
The website of the National Blood Service provides more information about how you can volunteer to give blood. You can also book an appointment to donate blood near to where you live or work.
A blood transfusion involves transferring blood into a person using a tube that goes directly into a vein in the arm.
Blood donation is volunteering to give some of your blood to help people who need extra blood after or during surgery. The blood is taken from a vein.