Register to become a blood donor. If you haven't given blood before (or haven't given for a while), you can sign up online or over the phone.
We'll put your name, address and date of birth on the blood donor database, and send you a welcome pack.
If you live in a city with a donor centre, we'll invite you to give blood soon after. You must leave twelve weeks between donations, so after that, we'll get in touch when you can give blood again.
If you give blood in your community, we'll invite you to your next local blood donor session. After that we'll get in touch when we're in your area.
As part of our invite, we send a donor health check form, which goes through your medical, lifestyle and travel history. Fill it in and bring it with you - it'll save time when you arrive. However, if you lose it or it gets damaged, that's fine - just come along anyway.
On the day, check you're feeling fit and well, rested. Give yourself plenty of time to avoid rushing.
In the three hours before you give blood, we suggest you eat something salty or savoury, and drink three glasses of water.
If you have any questions about your health, travel or lifestyle (or you need to cancel or rearrange your appointment), give the Donor Advice Team a quick ring on 0345 90 90 999
Whether it’s your first time or your fortieth, you’ll get a warm welcome.
We’ll take your name and address and take your donor health check form, or give you one to fill out.
The health check form goes through your medical, lifestyle and travel history. It's completely confidential and designed to protect you and the person who receives your blood.
Talk to us
A staff member will go over your health check form and make sure you're eligible to donate.
If you're a new donor or haven't given for a while, one of our nurses will take you aside for a private chat. This also gives you the chance to ask questions.
There are more than 200 rules affecting whether a person is eligible to give blood, and different rules affect eligibility for different lengths of time. If we're not able to take your blood at this time, we'll explain why.
Agree to give blood
Next, read the donor consent form.
This is a legal requirement to show you understand what's involved in giving blood. If you agree, sign it.
If you decide you don't want to give blood, you can leave at any time, no questions asked.
Finger prick test
Finally, we test a small drop of blood from your finger to make sure you're not anaemic.
If the test shows enough haemoglobin (a protein which contains iron), you can give blood.
If your haemoglobin seems low, another small blood sample may be taken from your arm and tested.
If this second test is okay, you may be able to give blood. If not, we'll advise you on what to do next.
Lie back and relax. We'll put a pressure cuff round your upper arm, clean the crook of your elbow with antiseptic, then insert the needle. This leads to a blood bag, which sits on an agitator scale beside you.
The scales constantly weigh and monitor your donation, and will stop automatically when you've given enough blood.
It usually only takes 5-15 minutes to donate a full unit of blood. As part of this process we set aside a few small samples of blood for testing.
While you're giving blood, you can read, chat, or just have a daydream. We'll keep an eye on you to make sure you're OK.
When you're done, we'll take the needle out carefully, and put on a sterile dressing.
Take it easy
When you're finished, head to the tea area and relax for at least 15 minutes with a drink and a snack. Everyone knows this is the best bit.
It takes around an hour to give blood. However, you can bask in the knowledge that you're a lifesaver for as long as you want.
If you feel unwell or suffer any discomfort or problems after giving blood, or if you have doubts about whether your blood should be used for patients, please let us know on 0345 90 90 999
Most people feel fine after donating blood - in fact, you're likely to feel pretty good about yourself. However, if you do feel faint, sore or ill, let us know.
Drink as much as you like, and have more than one snack – you deserve it! Sit down til you feel ready to go.
After you leave
Keep drinking! It helps replace the blood you've given.
You can take the dressing off your arm after a couple of hours, but avoid heavy lifting for the rest of the day.
We recommend you don’t smoke for the first hour after giving blood, because it can make you feel faint. It's a good idea to avoid strenuous exercise, hot baths or crowded public transport for the same reason.
If you feel faint after leaving the session, lie down straight away.
If you feel unwell or suffer any discomfort or problems after giving blood, or if you have doubts about whether your blood should be used for patients, please let us know on 0345 90 90 999.
Over the next two weeks
If you become ill over the next two weeks, it's extremely important that you let us know. You don’t need to tell us about simple coughs, colds or flu, but other illnesses may mean we can’t use your blood for patients. Call our donor helpline on 0345 90 90 999, or email email@example.com
In four months time
Keep an eye on your mail, and our blood stocks levels. You're able to give blood any time now, but we'll definitely be in touch when stocks of your blood type starts getting low.
If you're a brand new blood donor, we'll have sent you you a donor card with your name, donor number and blood type on it. Bring it with you next time you come to give blood.