1. ITV Report

Blood donation: the how-to guide

A blood donation in progress. Photo: PA

First of all, can I give blood?

If you're aged 17 - 65 and in good health then generally you are eligible. Health checks will be carried out before you donate, however.

How do I sign up?

On the NHS Blood Donation Registration page - click here. You will be asked a series of questions about your health and any recent foreign travel.

What happens next?

You will be invited to book a place at a local blood donation session. These often take place in public rooms like community centres or school halls and are staffed by NHS nurses. The Blood Service will have posted a health questionnaire to you beforehand - fill this in and take it with you.

A blood donation session. Credit: PA

What happens during a blood donation session?

A nurse will go through your health questionnaire confidentially and do a quick blood test by pricking your finger. This will confirm if your blood is safe to use and if you are well enough to donate. The blood donation itself involves relaxing on a special seat for about 10 minutes. The nurse will fix you up to what looks like a drip, and the blood donation will begin. Several other people will probably be donating alongside you. Afterwards, you will be given a drink and snack and time to relax.

Does it hurt?

Blood donation involves two injections, which do prick a bit. However, the donation itself is not painful.

Then what?

You will be invited to book your next session - men can donate every 12 weeks, women every 16 weeks. The Interval study is experimenting with more frequent donations, so this guidance may change in the future. Later, you will receive a letter telling you your blood group.

Lots of other information can be found on the NHS Blood Donation website - click here.

Blood donation bags will be catalogued by the nurses at the end of the session. Credit: PA