Why aren’t men giving blood? Figures show they are outnumbered by women – even though their blood is ‘better in certain scenarios’
- Experts say the lack of donors is putting cancer and burns patients at risk
- Men’s blood is better at clotting, making it effective for injuries and emergencies
- Only 6,092 men donated blood last year, according to figures
Half as many men donate blood as women despite it being more effective for treating cancer patients and burns victims.
NHS Blood and Transplant figures show just 6,092 men who registered last January went on to become blood donors, compared to 13,719 women.
Experts say the lack of male donors risks a shortage in life-saving treatments for seriously ill patients.
They are appealing for more men to sign up this month to equal the number of females.
The NHS is urging men to donate blood as it more effective in ‘certain situations’
While all donors are welcome, doctors often prefer using donated blood from men because it is more widely usable for transfusions.
It typically contains fewer antibodies against red and white blood cells, making it more suitable for creating blood products such as plasma and platelets.
Experts say men’s blood is better at clotting, making it more effective to stop bleeding after injury or surgery in emergencies such as road traffic accidents.
Women often have more antibodies following pregnancy, which can present adverse reactions if given to vulnerable patients.
It also has higher iron levels, meaning men are less likely to be deferred from donating due to low haemoglobin levels.
Mike Stredder, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘It’s vital that more men start donating blood because their blood is used to provide life-saving products like plasma and platelets – to save victims of burns, car crashes and treat to patients with cancer.
‘We’re incredibly grateful to all our female donors who are vital in providing lifesaving blood to those in need. But we need men to catch up with recent recruitment because their blood can have different characteristics which can make it important in certain situations.’
Last year, 830,000 people gave blood in England.
But 200,000 new donors are needed to give blood every year to replace those who can no longer donate regularly due to things like ill health, foreign travel or pregnancy.
Analysis of donor recruitment trends found social media campaigns appeared more effective in attracting women.
Martin Culley, 49, a podiatrist from Liverpool, has given blood for almost 30 years.
In 2011, he found out just how vital his donations are when his son Tom, now nine, was diagnosed with leukaemia.
He said: ‘Tom received the most wonderful care and during his treatment he had numerous blood and platelet transfusions.
‘I can’t thank people enough for giving blood and helping my boy through his treatment and recovery.
‘I have continued to be a blood donor since 1989 and have recently converted to donating platelets. I’m acutely aware of just how important blood donation is in saving people’s lives.
‘I’ve certainly no intention of stopping just yet. I would encourage everyone, especially men, to give blood as I’ve seen first-hand how important it is.’
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DONATE BLOOD?
Every day hospitals in the UK need a staggering 6,000 blood donations.
In order to meet this demand, an additional 190,000 new donors are needed every year.
At this time of year, hospitals are even more in need of donors as they face a ‘Christmas slump’, as people cancel appointments.
Figures show almost half of blood donors are over the age of 45 and 81 per cent of 18-24 year olds have never given blood.
A regular supply of all blood groups and types is needed.
Before you give blood
If you would like to donate blood, you can register online or call 0300 123 23 23.
When you log into your account, you are able to find an appointment.
How you donate blood
When you are comfortable in the chair, a nurse will put a cuff on your arm to maintain a small amount of pressure during donation (this does not measure blood pressure).
They then examine your arm to find a suitable vein and clean it with an antiseptic sponge.
A needle will be inserted into your arm which will collect your blood into a blood bag with your unique donor number.
You should not feel any discomfort or pain. If you do, tell a member of staff.
A scale weighs the blood and stops when you have donated 470ml (or just under a pint). This usually takes between 5-10 minutes.
The needle will be removed and a sterile dressing applied to your arm.
Your donation is transported to one of our blood centres where it is tested and processed before being issued to hospitals.
Source: NHS Give Blood