Why donate blood?

Why donate blood?

Donated blood is a lifeline for many people needing long-term treatments, not just in emergencies. Your blood’s main components: red cells, plasma and platelets are vital for many different uses.

Red cells, plasma and platelets

Red cells are used predominantly in treatments for cancer and blood diseases, as well as for treating anaemia and in surgeries for transplants and burns. Plasma provides proteins, nutrients and a clotting agent that is vital to stop bleeding – it is the most versatile component of your blood. Platelets are tiny cells used to help patients at a high risk of bleeding. They also contribute to the repair of damaged body tissue.

Find out more about blood components

> Read about giving a component donation
> Visit our Platelets website

Short shelf-life

Maintaining a regular supply of blood to all the people who need it is not easy. Blood components have a short shelf life and predicting demand can de difficult. By giving blood, every donor is contributing to a nation-wide challenge to provide life-saving products whenever and wherever they are needed.

Red cells – up to 35 days
Plasma – up to one year
Platelets – up to seven days

> View current blood stocks

Balancing blood types

Ever since a national blood service was first created in 1946, we have relied on the generosity of blood donors not only to maintain stock levels for all our hospitals, but to provide the necessary range of eight blood types. We are indebted to our regular donors for their role in helping us to save lives.

We sometimes need to target specific blood types to increase stock levels. This is particularly true of O Rh negative blood, which is rare but essential because it is the only blood type that can be given to anyone, regardless of their blood type. Donors with the blood group B Rh negative are more often found in black and south Asian minority ethnic communities. Because only 2 per cent of the population have this blood group, we often appeal for more B- donors.