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A history of donation, transfusion and transplantation


As the NHS marks its 70th birthday, we take a look back at the history of donation, transfusion and transplantation through the ages.

A vintage blood donor recruitment poster depicting a small girl asking people to donate.
A vintage blood donor recruitment poster depicting a child in a hospital bed.
A wartime donor recruitment poster from Bristol quotes Winston Churchill: "The hazards of Great Battles lie before us".
"The summer blood donor is a rare bird" - vintage blood donor recruitment poster

Blood donation and transfusion

Key milestones

Blood donations and transfusions save and improve thousands of lives every year. Around 825,000 people volunteer to give blood each year because they want to make a difference. Just like doctors and nurses, our donors are heroes of the NHS. Here are some key events in the history.

Organ and tissue donation and transplantation

Key milestones

Transplants are a miracle of modern medicine. The donation of organs and tissue from one person to another saves and improves around 3000 lives in the UK every year.

Below: An organ donor card from the 1980s

An organ donor card from the 1980s