Patient Information

Blood is essential for life. The blood in our body is made up of different parts, each of which has a special purpose.

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen to our internal organs
  • White blood cells fight infection
  • Platelets are special cells which help our blood to thicken and clot if we bleed
  • Plasma, the liquid part of our blood, carries the different blood cells and proteins that our body needs to function properly

Blood is collected from volunteer donors throughout Wales. It has a short ‘shelf life’ and therefore needs to be continuously collected all through the year so that supply can match demand. Collections do not usually take place on bank Holidays but there is a Saturday morning clinic at the Welsh Blood Service and mobile clinics operate on some Sundays.

The donated blood is transported to the Welsh Blood Service where it is tested, split into red cells, platelets and plasma, and stored safely so that it is available for the benefit of all patients in hospital in Wales. Patients of all ages benefit from donated blood which may be an essential part of therapy for both chronic conditions and major surgery, as well as a key part of the support for chemotherapy in cancer patients.

Sometimes, blood transfusion is the only option for treatment, especially if there is major bleeding, or if the bone marrow is not able to make replacement blood cells properly. However, other treatments can often be used to help patients recover their own blood levels so a transfusion of blood from a donor may not be necessary.

You should ask your hospital doctor for more information about possible treatment options. Alternatives include iron tablets or iron infusions (given as a drip into your vein), and having your own blood back during or after your operation (cell salvage).

All hospitals in Wales have a Hospital Transfusion Team that will be able to answer any questions you may have about your treatment. Please ask someone to explain if there is something you don’t understand.

The following leaflets are adapted from those developed by NHS Blood and Transplant and supplied to hospitals by the Welsh Blood Service. They may be downloaded and printed from this site. They are also available in printed form on request from the team caring for you in the hospital.

All leaflets are available in English and Welsh. Click Here

Further information on laboratory tests can be found at