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What to expect when giving blood

Giving blood is simple and rewarding.

By giving up a fraction of your time to donate blood, you are saving people’s lives across Wales. Whether you’re giving blood for the first time or want to know more about the process, we take you through what happens in the steps below.

Before you give blood

Before you book an appointment, you will need to check if you can give blood. You can do this by taking our eligibility quiz or by calling us on 0800 252 266. We will talk you through everything you need to know about giving blood and check your eligibility to become a blood donor.

Once you have checked your eligibility, you are ready to book an appointment to give blood at your nearest donor centre.

On the day

We will register your details upon arrival at the donor centre. Then, a team member will show you how to use the touch screen to complete the Donor Health Check Questionnaire, which will tell us about your general health, travel and lifestyle. We want to make sure you are fit and well enough to donate blood and that your blood is safe to give to a patient. In strict confidence, a member of our team staff will discuss the health questionnaire with you to assess your suitability.

Next, we will take a drop of blood from your fingertip to measure your haemoglobin (iron) and check that it’s within the acceptable range.

We will also give you 500ml of fluid to drink before you give blood – this will help ensure you are hydrated and don’t feel lightheaded after giving blood. We also recommend that you have a snack before attending the donor centre to ensure that your blood sugar levels are steady.

When you give blood

Once we have carried out the necessary health checks, it’s time to give blood! The actual process of giving blood takes approximately five to ten minutes to complete. We will insert a needle in your arm and collect your blood into a bag with your blood donor number on it. We aim to take 475ml (just under a pint) of blood with additional samples for testing. Then, we will remove the needle from your arm and apply a sterile dressing.

You shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort. Our staff will keep a close eye on you to ensure everything is fine, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Already booked in?

If you’ve already booked your appointment. Please read this before you donate. It’s everything you need to know to help you make a successful donation.

Read more

After you give blood

Now it’s time for a rest, a drink and biscuits before you leave the centre. It’s important to make sure your blood sugar levels are stable and that you’re not dehydrated so that you don’t feel faint or nauseous.

We also recommend keeping the pressure dressing on your arm for 30 minutes after giving blood and keeping the plaster on for at least six hours afterwards. Make sure that you don’t use your arm for anything too strenuous like heavy lifting. If you feel unwell after giving blood, call: us on 0800 252 266, your GP or NHS 999 or 111 for advice.

After making your first donation, and when you reach key milestones – we’ll send you a donor card in the post (this can take up to eight weeks). This card is a small thanks from us to you and it’ll also help you register quicker when you arrive for your next appointment.

Your next donation

Once you have given blood and all is well, you can rest waiting for your next chance to donate. For male donors, you must wait for a minimum of 12 weeks between each blood donations, and females must wait a minimum of 16 weeks before giving blood again.

Ready to give blood? Book a lifesaving blood donation near you.

Start here