Blood donation key messages and information
Suggested key phrases
- Bleed for the things that matter to us all
- Join the growing number of new donors
- We need 600 new donors a day to keep the country running
- In the last year we had 150,000 new blood donors donate
- We need 6,000 donations every day to collect the blood patients’ need
Blood donation saves lives. Each donation is a precious and generous gift which can save or improve the lives of up to three seriously ill adults (or six sick children).
The blood donation experience takes about an hour in total. Giving blood itself takes around 5 to 10 minutes
(15 minutes maximum).
You will donate in four easy steps:
- A quick health check looking at your travel, medical and sexual history
- An iron test (a small drop of blood is taken via a little pin prick to your finger)
- Donate blood and save lives
- Relax knowing you are a life saver - enjoy a drink and a biscuit, and hopefully book your next appointment via our app
We welcome every new donor who joins the growing numbers of people who donate their blood to save lives.
Thanks to our growing number of regular donors we maintain a good supply of blood to meet day to day patient needs and to cope with emergencies.
The demand for blood
Blood is a precious gift from our donors and we only take the level of donations required to meet the needs of patients. Overall the demand for blood is falling because of improved medical practice such as keyhole surgery, changes in cancer treatments, and a focus on using blood appropriately.
Priority blood types
At the same time there is increased demand for some priority blood types such as O negative; vital in emergencies as it is the only universal blood type which can be safely given to anyone regardless of their own blood type, and RO which is needed to help treat a growing number of patients with sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease is most common amongst people from a black African or Caribbean background and RO donors are also more likely to be black.
We need to recruit lots of people to donate so that we can find the people with the blood types that patients need most. People with blood which is less in demand for patients may be called to donate less often.
Whilst we may need less blood overall, we still need all our loyal donors to keep giving blood to make sure we can always meet the needs of all patients.
Having enough donors means we can guarantee a constant supply of all blood types to patients throughout the year.
We need around 200,000 new blood donors each year to replace those who can no longer donate, and an additional 50,000 to make sure we recruit enough new donors from all the priority blood types patients need.
Black blood donors
We urgently need 40,000 more black donors as they are more likely to have the blood type needed to treat the increasing number of patients suffering from Sickle Cell Disease.
Asian blood donors
We need more donors with Asian heritage; not only are Asian donors more likely to be rare blood types but they are also needed in the treatment of thalassaemia.
Male blood donors
A growing number of men are donating blood, but we need even more to join us to save and improve lives. New research on iron levels show that our male donors are more likely than women to be able to donate very regularly without experiencing any adverse effects, so we need more men to give blood to make sure we receive all the blood that patients need.
Young blood donors
We try to recruit new younger blood donors so they can become loyal and long-term donors. This means we will continue to have the right number of donors and enough of the different blood types to meet patient need or cope with any emergencies long into the future.
We are building our donor base so that we are better able to respond to regular demand and as well as peaks. This may mean both existing and new donors may not always be able to get appointment quite as easily.
Please be patient and book a later appointment.
Priority blood groups
If you are in a priority blood group (O neg, B neg and RO) and have not been able to get an appointment, contact the National Contact Centre on 0300 123 2323.
We will continue to increase the number of appointment slots for the blood types we need most and at times will put on restricted sessions where only priority blood group donors can donate.
We normally expect new donors to be able to find an appointment in the next four months.
Our donor centres
We have 24 static donor centres in some of our major cities which are open most days of the week. You may be able to get a much quicker appointment at one of these centres.
We welcome every new donor who joins us to save and improve lives.
We encourage you to go online to register so that we can offer you an appointment sometime in the future, or contact you when we need you.
We visit some venues only a small number of times a year and we need to spread out appointments through the year so that we are taking donations of the right blood every day. This means that new donors may not always be able to donate straight away, but we normally expect you to be able to find an appointment in the next four months. Your blood is very valuable, so please be patient.
Our donor centres
We have 24 static donor centres in some of our major cities and these offer the ability to get a much quicker appointment as they are open most days of the week.
Priority blood groups
Some blood types are in greater demand to meet the needs of patients. We need to recruit lots of people to donate so that we can find the people with the priority blood types patients need most.
You will find out your blood type after your first donation.
Blood is a precious gift from our donors which should not be wasted.
It is important we only receive donations of the blood patients need when they need it.
That is why we are asking some donors with priority blood types that are in short supply to donate more regularly, and asking others to donate less often so that we do not receive more blood than is required.
Why do we need so many new donors?
Around 200,000 people stop donating every year for one reason or another so we need new donors to maintain the supply to patients across all blood groups
We are aiming to recruit 250,000 new donors this year to replace the donors we lose, to make sure we have enough donors for each blood type, to cope with increased deferrals caused by improved testing of donor iron levels, and to deal with the fact that an increasing number of people who register to donate don’t go on to donate
Information about different blood types
0- blood type
- Around 8% of the population share your blood type, but it accounts for around 13% of requests from hospitals. Demand is always high and collecting enough is a constant challenge.
- O - red blood cells are often referred to as “universal” as they can help treat patients of all blood types. This makes your donations essential in A&E departments
- O- donations can be given to patients from all other blood groups
- O- patients can only receive O- donations
- O- donors donate more frequently than any other blood group and this is essential. Without your support it would be impossible to meet demand and maintain healthy stocks of this critical blood type.
- O- is the blood type carried on air ambulances
- Siblings of O- donors are around 4 times more likely than the average man on the street to share this vital blood type. Why not ask your siblings to join you on your next date to donate?
0+ blood type
- Around 36% of the population have O+ blood. This makes it the most common blood type in the country, and means hospitals need a lot.
- O+ red cells can be used to treat all Rhesus + blood types. That means around 3 in 4 patients, or 76% of the population, can benefit from your donations.
- O+ patients can receive red blood cells from either O+ or O- donors.
- Hospitals request more units of O+ red blood cells than any other group, so donating regularly is important. Have you booked your next date to donate?
A+ blood type
- Around 30% of the population have A+ blood making it the second largest blood type, which means hospitals need a lot.
- A+ red cells can be used to treat patients with blood types A+ and AB+, and can receive donations from A-, A+, O-, or O+ donors
- A+ donations are also important for their platelets. Platelets are the component of blood crucial in helping blood clot and preventing bleeding after an injury. A+ platelets are extremely useful as they can be used to treat patients of all blood types. Last year more A+ platelets were issued to hospitals than any other blood type
- Once donated platelets last for just 5 days, so it’s important to ensure a consistent and regular supply and you can make a significant difference in this area. Booking your next date to donate helps us to meet the balance between collections and hospital demand
A- blood type
- Around 9% of the population have A- making it the third largest blood group
- A- red cells can be used to treat patients with blood types A-, AB-, A+ and AB+. That’s around 40% of the population
- A- patients can receive red blood cells from A- and O- donors
- Platelets from A- donors can help treat patients from all other blood groups, so they’re incredibly versatile and demand for them is high
- Last year around 25% of A- products issued to hospitals were platelets
- Once donated, platelets last just 5 days so it’s really important to ensure a consistent and regular supply. Booking your next date to donate makes balancing sufficient collections with patient needs easier
- A neg donations are extremely important in the production of platelets. Platelets are the component of blood crucial in helping blood clot and preventing bleeding after an injury
B+ blood type
- Only around 8% of the population have the blood type B+
- B+ red cells can be used to treat patients with blood types B+ and AB+
- B+ patients can receive red cells from B+, B-, O+, or O- donors
- B+ is an important blood type for treating patients with thalassemia and sickle cell disease. These conditions affect South Asian and black communities where B+ is more prevalent
- Ro is a rare subtype of blood and demand for B+ Ro donations is exceptionally high. Only by recruiting new B+ donors such as yourself can we hope to identify individuals with this rare subtype and meet the needs of all patients (Ro donors are written to once identified)
B- blood type
- Just 2% of the population are B- so it’s rare and finding new donors like yourself is difficult
- B- red cells can be used to treat B-, B+, AB- and AB+ patients: that’s around 1 in 8
- B- patients can only receive donations from B- and O- donors
- Siblings of B- donors are around 10 times more likely than the average man on the street to share this important blood type. With donations in such high demand why not ask any siblings that don’t currently donate to join you?
- Ro is a rare subtype of blood and demand for Ro B+ donations is exceptionally high rising. B- donations (with specific characteristics) are a safe alternative for patients when Ro B+ donations are not readily available
- Hospital demand for B- is high and collecting enough is a constant challenge. Donating as frequently as possible will make an enormous difference. Have you booked your next date to donate?
AB+ blood type
- Just 2% of the population have AB+ making it one of the rarest blood types in the country
- AB+ red cells can only be used to treat patients with the same blood type, however patients with this blood type can receive donations from any other blood type. This has resulted in demand for AB+ red cells being at its lowest level for over a decade
- Group AB+ blood donations are important for producing Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP)
- AB+ males are encouraged to donate as frequently as possible whilst female donors are asked to wait until contacted directly by NHSBT with a request to donate. This action ensures collections more closely match hospital demand for this blood type
- Fresh Frozen Plasma from group AB donors can be used to treat patients from all other ABO groups, but it can only be safely produced from male donations.
AB- Blood type
- Only 1% of the population have the blood type AB- making it the rarest in the country. Collecting enough can at times be a challenge and finding new donors is difficult
- AB- red cells can only be used to treat patients with blood types AB- and AB+, however patients with this blood type can receive donations from any rhesus negative blood type (AB-, A-, B-, or O-)
- Group AB- blood donations are very important for producing Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP)
- AB- is also the “universal” blood type for platelets, meaning this component of blood can be used to treat patients of all blood types. Platelets are the component of blood crucial in helping blood clot and preventing bleeding after an injury
- Fresh Frozen Plasma from group AB- donors can be used to treat patients from all other ABO groups, but it can only be safely produced from male donations. Plasma is the fluid that carries all blood cells and components around the body.