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Topic: How to donate blood in the UK  (Read 4181 times)

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How to donate blood in the UK
« on: August 04, 2011, 05:18:28 PM »
Blood donation works largely like it does in the US, at least for donors.  First, you can register at the following website:

http://www.blood.co.uk/

Fill out the registration, email confirmation, etc.  You can even book an appointment at that time.  A few days after booking the appointment, you will receive a questionnaire along with your appointment details.  Fill it out with a blue or black pen.  Then you are set for your day of appointment.  The site will give you an idea of who can donate and who can't, and you will get a further idea when the questionnaire arrives. 

I used to donate regularly, but I haven't in years.  It's good for you (studies have shown health benefits for the donor), and it might help save a life.  I'm on the organ donor registry as well, and it's really easy to register for that.  I am considering donating bone marrow, but I have to admit, it's a bit of a step I am hesitant to make.  I will probably will end up doing it.  It's something I feel strongly about, and I know others do too.  I am creating this in case someone here wants to donate, but hasn't taken that first step.

My first experience in the UK:

I arrived a bit early, but the "carer" saw me right away.  He went over my questionnaire.  Asked me about my visit last year to the US (you need to wait 4 months after travelling to the US and CA if you go in the summer). He asked how long I've lived here.  Asked about my operations.  He had to call a nurse over because he didn't understand about my plate in my leg.  He then pricked my finger and tested my iron and haemoglobin levels.  I was then sent to sit in another area and drink some water. 

After a few minutes, I was called over to a stretcher.  They had music playing, so keep that in mind if you want to bring reading materials.  I brought my Kindle, but really, I guess I could have done without.  One of the people there started the bag up (took a bit).  I was done pretty quickly.  I then had to hold a gauze on my arm for 3 minutes (they set a timer).  After the timer went off, they plastered me and added a sort of hard, tubular thing (never had that before).  They gave me instructions and sent me over for refreshments.

You're meant to stay at the refreshment table for 10 minutes.  During that time I was asked to book another appointment, which I did. 

All told, it was a quick and relatively pain-free procedure.  Hope this encourages someone else to book an appointment.


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2011, 05:26:21 PM »
I am considering donating bone marrow, but I have to admit, it's a bit of a step I am hesitant to make.  I will probably will end up doing it.  It's something I feel strongly about, and I know others do too. 
Could I ask why? Because I find that there are a lot of outdated misconceptions out there about bone marrow donation and I'd like to clear things up if I can... :)

The #1 thing I hear is that it really hurts - it doesn't. Over 80% of donations are peripheral stem cell donations, where you have a few jabs (like IVF, into your stomach fat, really easy!) to stimulate your stem cell production and get it into your blood stream, and then you spend an afternoon in an outpatient wing with a needle in each arm. Your blood goes out one arm, around a centrifuge to collect the stem cells, then back in through your other arms. Boring, perhaps, but certainly not painful. (The other 20% of the donations are the painful sort, I grant you that.)

Your immune system is back to normal after 3 weeks, and you've saved someone's life. I'm of course biased, but it really is a wonderful wonderful thing to do for another human being, and you really have very little risk to yourself.
Summer 97 - first visited friends in London
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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2011, 05:36:04 PM »
Well, it's good to know that it doesn't hurt that much, but that was only part of it.  I wanted to investigate it entirely.


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2011, 05:58:21 PM »
The last time that I donated (mid-July), there was a new screening question pre-donation that surprised me.  They said it's new & they've not yet had the chance to add it to the returning donor questionnaires.

They asked if I had undertaken any infertility treatment since 1980 onwards.  I had some infertility treatment in 1995-1997-ish, but that was a heckuva a long time ago!  :o

So I had to dredge that stuff up out of my memory banks & I asked what the issue was there.  Well part of it was if you've recently taken some fertility drugs - I think she said within the last 18 months perhaps (?? but don't quote me on that).  Or if you've ever been administered Metrodin, you might not be able to donate.  (looks like the drug or some version of it was withdrawn from the market at some point over a CJD related scare in the drug's components, which may have never been conclusively proven, so I think the blood service is just erring on the side of caution there)  When I was taking infertility treatment, that was the next drug that my fertility doc wanted to put me on but I never ended up going there - so dodged the bullet on that one!

The staff felt awkward having to ask about it - understandably because it is a sensitive issue for women who have undergone that sort of treatment.  I would have been okay with it if we could have just stuck to the facts they needed.  But they went on to ask me if I ever got pregnant & had any kids blah blah blah, and then apologised profusely when I said 'no' and 'no'...and then I did start to get very subtly verklempt, just because they kept overcompensating rather than just dropping it.  :(

At least I'll be prepared for the question next time - it caught me offguard, IYKWIM?

I was concerned that we wouldn't be able to donate again (4 month interval) mid-November, because we will be in the US early October.  The summer months thing is regarding West Nile virus, I believe.  But the questionnaire said we could donate as long as it's been 28 days since we went to the US, which we will be fine for mid-November if that's the case.  I think that bit is confusing because I have seen 4 months and I have seen 28 days, so guess we'll see when we turn up for it in November.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in...

- from Anthem, by Leonard Cohen (b 1934)


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 10:02:52 PM »
That's very helpful info. Thank you, LA.  :)


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2011, 10:20:36 PM »
I donated every time I was eligible like clockwork for years and years in the States. Then I got a letter -- signed by the director of the Rhode Island Blood Center herself! -- that said I had some weird protein in my blood that gave a false positive for hepatitis. Nothing to worry about, no health problem, but it had turned up twice in a row, which put me on the banned list. Also, they threw my blood away   :(

Anyhow, just wanted to share. I felt good about giving blood (and platelets, when asked).


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2011, 12:55:09 AM »
Ouch!  That's disappointing Stoatula! I have O- blood so I really should donate more often than I do because it's the universal donor and they're always short of it.


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2012, 11:50:10 AM »
Both DH & I signed up Wednesday at our regular blood donation for the British Bone Marrow Registry.  It was easy to do - we just asked to get on the registry, had to read a little booklet, fill out & sign a form, and then they just took an extra sample of our blood that was sent off for the DNA tissue typing.  You're allowed to register for BBMR up to & including age 49, and you will be kept on the register until age 60.

So if you're already donating blood, get in!  BBMR too.  :)

More discussion on this topic is here.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in...

- from Anthem, by Leonard Cohen (b 1934)


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2012, 01:35:08 PM »
Quote
How can I join the register?

You must be aged between 18 and 49 years old (registered before your 50th birthday) and be a blood donor. You can join when you next give blood, or at the same time as your first donation. We will check that there is no medical reason preventing you from being both a blood donor and a stem cell donor. At the time of your blood donation we will take an extra blood sample, so that we can identify your tissue type for the registry from your DNA - the genetic material our bodies are made up from. Please inform the staff at the blood donation session that you wish to join the BBMR before your blood donation is taken.

The quote above is from the FAQs on the British Bone Marrow Registry site.

But apparently (and unfortunately) it seems to work differently in Scotland.
I read the above, and trotted myself down to my local blood donation centre.  I informed them that was here to join the BBMR, in addition to giving blood, and there was all this to-ing and fro-ing between the woman that was interviewing me and the NHS nurses there.

She then came back to tell me that the only way I can register to donate bone marrow is through the Anthony Nolan Trust, but unfortunately, they won't take people over 40, and I am 49 this year.

Don't know if they were mistaken or badly informed, but I was really disappointed not to be able to get on the register.



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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2012, 05:43:52 PM »
Don't know if they were mistaken or badly informed, but I was really disappointed not to be able to get on the register.

What a shame. Maybe you could ring up the British Bone Marrow Registry & ask them whazzup?  :-\\\\

We both got on here at our last blood donation, easy peasy, & I'll be 48 this year.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in...

- from Anthem, by Leonard Cohen (b 1934)


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2012, 05:52:17 PM »
It was nothing to do with my age... they just told me that in Scotland, the blood donor centres no longer have anything to do with the bone marrow register, and that if I want to donate, I have to go to Anthony Nolan.

I didn't double-check the info they gave me... maybe I should.


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2012, 06:01:15 PM »
How strange - sounds like they do it differently there, but I just don't understand why considering the register itself (whether you enter through Anthony Nolan or BBMR etc) is a fairly universal/shared thing worldwide. You'd think they'd want to help more people be included.  :-\\\\

Anthony Nolan does have the age 40 cutoff though.

My SIL (in the US) was a bone marrow donor for her brother when she was well into her 40s, so it's not like we don't have good marrow for donating.  :P
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 06:05:30 PM by Mrs Robinson »
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in...

- from Anthem, by Leonard Cohen (b 1934)


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Re: How to donate blood in the UK
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2012, 06:02:52 PM »
Just thought I'd add something to this.  Right now the Blood donation centres are doing a special study - I've taken part in it, where I go every 14 weeks.  When you sign up, you don't know how often you will have to take part (I think it's between every 10 weeks to 16 weeks).  For someone who wants to be a regular donor, this might be a good thing to sign up for, as they send reminders and all.  You still have to answer all the questions every time, but it's not that bad.


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