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Young people have the biggest gender gap in blood donation

Women aged 17-34 are almost twice as likely to donate than men the same age.

18 October 2019
  • Women aged 17-34 are almost twice as likely to donate than men the same age, exposing the real need for more young men to donate blood
  • The busy lifestyles of 17-34-year-olds could be putting some off donating, with one in six saying they know it’s a good thing to do but haven’t got around to it
  • To tackle this gender gap and recruit more young blood donors, NHS Blood and Transplant is launching two-week national campaign with ITV2


Young men are being urged to get involved in blood donation in a campaign launched on 17 October 2019 by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and ITV2, as new figures reveal women aged 17-34 are almost twice as likely to donate than men the same age (1). This is despite the need for men’s blood because it can more easily be used to stop bleeding from surgery or injuries.

Lady Leshurr, Dr Alex George, Joel Dommett, Emily Atack and Curtis Pritchard in Halloween costumes
The ITV2 Blood Squad includes Lady Leshurr, Dr Alex George, Joel Dommett, Emily Atack and Curtis Pritchard

The latest blood donation figures show young people have the biggest gender gap in blood donation. In the last year, 172,600 blood donors were young women (17-34-year olds), compared with 105,900 men the same age and amongst this age group two thirds of new registrations were women (2), highlighting the important need for more young men to register to donate blood and save lives. 

It is important that young men continuously register as blood donors because as people get older they’re less likely to be able to donate (3). Men are particularly important donors, as they make up most long-term blood donors. They are more likely to have lots of iron, so can donate more regularly than women.

Men’s blood can also be more easily used for platelets, which are used to treat people in emergencies when they are bleeding a lot. Conversely, women often have breaks in donation due to pregnancy.

It is not fully understood why fewer young men donate than women, but previous research by NHSBT found that one in five (20%) men in general admit they fear needles and one in four (24%) fear giving blood (4).

The busy lifestyles and frequent travel of many young people could be putting some off donating blood. Amongst 17-34-year-old men and women, one in six (17%) have said they know it’s a good thing to do but haven’t got around to it (5).

Lady Leshurr, David Potts, Jordan Davies, Joel Dommett, Emily Atack and Tommy Fury in Halloween costumes
David Potts, Jordan Davies and Tommy Fury are also part of the squad

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant says: “We need 400 people to register as new donors every day to maintain the blood supply, for the best chance of keeping patients alive.

For many reasons it’s vital that young people continue to register and donate – particularly young men – not least because older people become less likely to be able to donate blood. Please do something amazing and book an appointment to start saving lives, especially if you live or work near to one of our donor centres.”

Despite this, overall, young people are showing a huge commitment to their environment, giving blood in their hundreds of thousands. Last year 17-34-year-olds supplied 450,000 whole blood donations of a total 1.48 million, making up almost a third of donations (6).

For the second year running NHSBT and ITV2 have partnered to inspire young people to register and donate blood, so they can continue to play their important role in blood donation.

Clare Phillips, ITV Director of Social Purpose says: “ITV has the ability to shape culture for good and the ITV2 Blood Squad campaign is a great example of how TV can change behaviour and make a real impact. 

We were thrilled with the success of the ITV2 Blood Squad last year, 33,000 sign ups were made to the blood donor register with the potential to improve and save up to 100,000 lives.

We have even bigger ambitions for this campaign in 2019. It will be one of the ways that ITV will meet its target of encouraging 10million people to take action to improve their physical or mental health by 2023.”

Adverts, featuring popular TV personalities from ITV2’s shows, will run from 17 October for two weeks on ITV2, online, radio, in cinema and across social media to emphasise that there’s no need to fear blood donation this Halloween.

During the campaign month last year thousands of people were inspired to register and their donations have saved or improved the lives of up to 30,000 people – it is hoped this year’s campaign will achieve the same and more.

  • The appeal is targeted at people living near the 23 permanent donor centres because the donor centres have more capacity for new donors.
  • To register to give blood, visit blood.co.uk or download the GiveBlood app.
  • Find a future appointment – most new donors give blood within three months of registering.

About the ITV2 Blood Squad campaign

For the second year running NHSBT and ITV2 have partnered to inspire young people to register and donate blood through the #ITV2BloodSquad campaign.

Four female vampires dressed in white evening gownsThe ITV2 Blood Squad is made up of cast members of some of ITV2 most popular shows and will feature in exclusive Halloween themed promotions on air, in social media and online from 17 October-3 November to urge viewers to join their squad.

Last year’s campaign inspired thousands of young people to register and their donations have saved or improved the lives of up to 30,000 people.

The Blood Squad cast:

  • Love Island’s Molly-Mae Hague, Tommy Fury, Amy Hart, Anna Vakili, Curtis Pritchard, Yewande Biala and Dr Alex George
  • Ibiza Weekender’s Jordan Davies and David Potts
  • Don’t Hate the Playaz’s Lady Leshurr
  • I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’s Emily Atack and Joel Dommett
  • Keep an eye out for further squad members as the campaign continues…

Notes to editors

  1. Figures recorded by NHSBT show there were 825,340 active whole blood donors between 1 September 2018 and 31 august 2019 – of which 278,591 were aged 17-34. Amongst 17-34-year-old donors, 172,661 were women and 105,930 were men. Analysis of this data shows women aged 17-34 are 63% (X1.6) more likely to donate compared to men the same age.
  2. Figures recorded by NHSBT show between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019 271,705 people aged 17-34 registered to give blood – of which 175,233 were female and 96,472 were male.
  3. Older people can and do regularly donate and save lives but overall they have higher prevalence of illnesses which prevent donation.
  4. Field research by OnePoll of a representative sample of 1,000 men and women aged 18 and above, commissioned by Engine PR on behalf of NHSBT and conducted between 29 August and 12 September 2018.
  5. Field research by OnePoll of a representative sample of 1,000 men and women aged 18 and above, commissioned by Engine PR on behalf of NHSBT and conducted between 29 August and 12 September 2018.
  6. Figures recorded by NHSBT show between 1 September 2018 and 31 august 2019 people aged 17-34 gave 450,482 successful whole blood donations of a total 1,485,866. Amongst 17-34 year olds, 262,213 of the donations were from women and 188,269 from men.