Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - How long does it take?

Blood donation itself takes around 15 minutes. You should expect to be with us for around 45-60 minutes to allow time for you to complete the health questionnaire and enjoy some refreshments after your donation.

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Will it hurt?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Will it hurt?

We completely understand that some people may be nervous about giving blood, and we do our very best to help you feel as comfortable and reassured as possible. For most people, giving blood is a simple, trouble-free experience and our staff aim to minimise any discomfort there may be.

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Will I faint?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Will I faint?

Giving blood, especially for the first time, can sometimes make you feel a little light-headed. You can help by eating before you come along, as well as drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) before and after your donation.

We recommend that you avoid any strenuous exercise for the next few hours after you have donated, as well as avoiding any activity that may be hazardous to you or others.

A few people do feel faint after donating, but please rest assured that our staff are fully trained to deal with this. If you do feel faint after leaving the session, you should lie down and rest until you feel better. Call us for some advice or if you continue to feel unwell, please contact your GP.

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Will I bruise?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Will I bruise?

Bruises can sometimes develop and are not usually serious. Most are small and fade within a few days. There are simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of bruising. Where possible, you should avoid heavy lifting or manual work with your ‘donating’ arm for at least two hours after donating.

Occasionally, bruising may be severe or become painful. In the unlikely event that this should happen, please contact us for advice or see your GP.

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How much blood do you take?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - How much blood do you take?

We aim to take 470mls, which is just under a pint and less than 10% of your total blood volume.

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How long is it before my body recovers?

If you are fit and healthy, giving blood should not affect your health whatsoever.Your body makes up the fluid part of your donation within hours, providing you have enough water to drink. The red cells will be replaced in your body within a few weeks, providing you have enough iron in your diet.

Can I smoke after giving blood?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Can I smoke after giving blood?

You should wait at least two hours after donating before you smoke. This is because it may make you feel dizzy or faint.

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How often can I donate?

Male donors must wait a minimum of 12 full weeks between each blood donation and can give up to 4 donations in a calendar year.

Female donors must wait a minimum of 16 full weeks between each blood donation and can give up to 3 donations in a calendar year.

Is my blood tested?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Is my blood tested?

When you donate we collect blood samples in tubes, so that we can test them and check your blood group in our laboratory. We will let you know if we haven’t collected enough samples to run the tests.

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What is my blood tested for?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - What is my blood tested for?

We test every donation, every time, no matter how many times you have given blood. We test for the following, HIV (the AIDS virus), Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, HTLV (Human T Lymphotropic Virus) and Syphilis. People who carry these infections may remain healthy for many years but they can be passed on by blood transfusion and may have serious implications for the donor and patient.

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What happens if my test results are positive?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - What happens if my test results are positive?

We will tell you if you have any positive test results. Our specially trained staff are here to offer any information and advice you may need.

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What happens if my test results aren’t clear?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - What happens if my test results aren’t clear?

In a few cases, donations may be unsuitable because the donor’s blood reacts against the testing chemicals that we use. There are no health implications for you to worry about, but testing problems prevent us from using the blood. This problem usually disappears within a few months. We will send you a detailed explanation if your blood gives an unclear reaction.

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Do you carry out any extra tests?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Do you carry out any extra tests?

To meet the special needs of certain patients, like babies for example, some extra tests may be carried out on selected donations. The range of blood tests we do is under regular review and other tests may be introduced in the future.

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Why do you prick my finger every time?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Why do you prick my finger every time?

The ‘finger prick’ test estimates your haemoglobin levels. Haemoglobin is the red part of your blood containing iron. We check this every time you come along to donate to make sure that we can accept a donation from you. This is to prevent you from becoming anaemic and make sure that the blood being used for transfusion has enough haemoglobin in it to be beneficial to the patient.

A drop of your blood is put into a Copper Sulphate solution. If it sinks then it indicates that your haemoglobin levels are high enough to donate. If it doesn’t sink your haemoglobin levels are too low for us to take a donation. If this happens, we will then ask if you will give a blood sample so that we can check your “full blood count” in our laboratory. This will show if you are anaemic or not.

Some people’s haemoglobin levels are naturally lower than the minimum needed to give blood. Sometimes the finger prick test indicates that a person’s haemoglobin levels are low when they are in fact OK or borderline. This happens more often in the summer months when the blood in the body is more dilute.

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I am taking medications, Can I still donate?

If you are taking any tablets, medicines or injections the reason you need to take them may prevent us from taking a donation from you. Some drugs may affect the person who receives the blood or, if they are pregnant, their unborn child. If you are taking medications and are not sure if you are still able to donate, please contact us for advice.

I am taking aspirin/painkillers, can I still donate?

Some medication, such as aspirin and some other painkillers may make platelets less effective. We need to know if you have taken any of these within the previous 48 hours of giving blood so that we don’t use the platelets from your donation. If you are taking medications and are not sure if you are still able to donate, please contact us for advice.

I am taking medication for high blood pressure, can I still donate?

If you have been on the same dose of medication for over 4 weeks you will be able to donate provided you are otherwise well. If you also have other medical problems and are not sure if you are still able to donate, please contact us for advice.

I have been abroad, can I still donate?

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - I have been abroad, can I still donate?

If you have been abroad recently, or are planning to go, you may need to wait a while before you can donate again. There are some diseases which are more prevalent in certain countries, and if you visit one of these places you will need to let us know. If you are not sure, please contact us for advice or visit Travel & Vaccinations.

Click here to view the current Geographical Disease Risk Index.

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I have recently had a vaccination, can I still donate?

The rules regarding vaccinations and immunisations can vary. Please check with us if you have had any routine immunisations in the 8 weeks before offering to give blood or if you have been immunised in the previous 12 months following exposure to a disease.

I have had a blood transfusion since 1980, can I still donate?

People who have received a blood transfusion since January 1980 cannot give blood. This is a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of Variant Creuzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) being transmitted through transfusion.

I have recently had acupuncture, can I still donate?

If you’ve had acupuncture and it has been performed by NHS staff, or a member of the following registered statutory bodies you can donate straight away.

  • The General Medical Council (GMC)
  • The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • General Dental Council (GDC)
  • General Chiropractic Council (GDC)
  • General Optical Council (GOC)
  • General Osteopathic Council (GOsC)
  • Health Professions Council (HCPc)

For all other cases you cannot donate for 4 months

If you are unsure whether this change affects you, please contact us on 0800 25 22 66

I have recently had a tattoo/piercing, can I still donate?

You must wait 4 months following a tattoo/piercing before you can donate.

I have recently been in contact with someone who has an infectious disease, can I still donate?

Recent contact with infectious diseases e.g. chicken pox means that you will need to wait until the incubation period, usually at least 4 weeks, has passed. If you are incubating an infectious disease you could pass it on to any patient who receives your blood. If you are not sure, please contact us for advice.

Why we ask you not to donate to the Welsh Blood Service

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Why do you prick my finger every time?

Why ME/CFS sufferers are not able to donate blood

From 1 November 2010, people with Myalgic Encephalitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) will be permanently deferred from giving blood in the UK.The change to donor selection guidelines, which apply across all four UK Blood Services, is as a result of recommendations by the UK Blood Services Standing Advisory Committee on the Care and Selection of Donors, and Joint Professional Advisory Committee (JPAC)

In the past, donors with a history of ME/CFS could give blood, provided they had completely recovered and were feeling well.

However, as ME/CFS is a condition where people can relapse and become ill again, donor selection guidelines are being changed as a precaution to protect the donor’s safety by ensuring the condition is not made worse by donating blood.

This change brings donor selection guidelines for ME/CFS into line with other relapsing conditions or neurological conditions of unknown or uncertain origin, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease.

For further information, please contact the Welsh Blood Service on
0800 25 22 66

Female Donors Age 17 – 19yrs

Welsh Blood Service FAQ - Why do you prick my finger every time?

On 13 February 2012 our guidelines are changing for female donors aged 17–19 years

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