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Make 2016 the year you give blood

Picture of Alex Henderson

Alex Henderson

Aston Business School graduate who has been the Managing Director of Henderson Biomedical since January 2015. Passionate about helping laboratories keep their vital equipment operational and compliant. Architecture enthusiast, fitness fanatic and dog lover!

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First of all, happy New Year to everyone and I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break. With 2016 now upon us, so too are the New Year’s resolutions. Many people will choose one of the more common Yew Year’s  resolutions: lose weight, do more exercise, eat more healthily and so on. Whilst these New Year’s resolutions are all very valid, they do require a sustained effort over the course of the year. A New Year’s resolution can just be a small change that one makes in order to make a big difference to the wider community. A great example of this is by giving blood. If you don’t usually donate blood, have you thought of possibly making 2016 the year that you do?

Blood is essential to treating life-long illnesses and is also required for emergency operations. You can broadly split blood into three components: red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Red blood cells are primarily used to treat cancer patients and people with blood diseases. Plasma provides proteins, nutrients and a clotting agent to stop bleeding, whilst platelets are tiny cells that contribute to the repair of damaged body tissue. NHS Blood & Transplant need to maintain a regular supply of each of these blood components.

The sad fact is that blood stocks are often at dangerously low levels at various points throughout the year, particularly during the period of Christmas and New Year when people are thinking more about spending time with their families than booking an appointment to give blood. The problem of low blood stocks is particularly acute with rare blood groups such B negative (only about 2% of donors have this blood group).

These are just some of the reasons as to why it is so important to give blood. Making 2016 the year that you donate blood for the first time is a great idea and it is also incredibly easy to do. Simply register to donate on the Give Blood website and find a venue local to you.

However, before you choose book an appointment, you must first make sure that you are able donate. Most people can donate so long as they are fit and healthy, weigh over 50kg and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have never given blood before). For females who weigh less than 65kg and are under 20 years of age and 168cm in height, an estimation of blood volume is required. This can be done online by visiting the Give Blood website.

There are other factors that a potential donor must consider before booking an appointment. For example, people who have travelled outside the UK within the past 6 months may be refused. Furthermore, if you have had an infection in the last 2 weeks or you are taking or have completed a course of antibiotics in the last 7 days, you will likely be rejected. In fact the list of exclusions is quite far-reaching and this can put some people off from donating altogether.

Nevertheless, it is important not to be put off by this because by giving blood, you are really making a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of people across the UK. Blood really is the gift of life that all of us should give if we are able to do so.

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