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27th Nov 2023

Been Meaning to Give Blood? Here’s What You Should Know.

Sarah McKenna Barry

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Your questions answered.

It’s something we all intend doing at some point, but surprisingly only 3% of people who are eligible are active blood donors. Life is busy and things just get in the way, but what really could be more worthwhile?

If you haven’t donated before, or if it has been a while since you last did, you may have some questions. Don’t fret, as we’ve teamed up with to give you everything you need to know about your first blood donation.

Is my blood type needed?

Absolutely. Every blood type is needed for a wide range of treatments. Every day, hospitals all across Ireland depend on a constant supply of blood in order to care for patients. Blood transfusions are required to care for new-born babies, obstetrics emergencies, cancer patients, accident victims, and many people undergoing surgery.

Every year, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) supplies over 125,000 units of blood to our hospitals, and the health service simply couldn’t function without the generosity of regular blood donors.

What can I do if I am afraid of needles?

Consider bringing a friend to chat to while you donate – safety in numbers! The nurses are friendly and understanding and very experienced at taking blood, and will do their best to make you feel comfortable – just let them know and they will be delighted to help you through it.

What if I am worried about fainting or feeling lightheaded? 

It’s important to make sure to eat a good meal before you donate, and drink plenty of water. The nurse will also check your height and weight to make sure that you have enough blood volume to donate safely. After you give blood you will have some time to rest with a snack and a drink to make sure you are well and ready to get on with your day after giving blood.  

I haven’t donated since before I was pregnant. Can I donate now?

Although you can’t give blood while you are pregnant, you can give blood 12 months after any pregnancy end, even if you are still breastfeeding. 

What if I have had low iron levels in the past?

Your haemoglobin levels will be tested before any donation, to make sure you are safe to donate on the day.

Does being on medication stop me from donating?

You can donate blood while taking some medications. It is always best to call the IBTS to check if the medication that you are on is compatible with giving blood. You can phone them on 1800 731 137. There is also plenty of information in the FAQ section about specific medicines on the website.

What should I do if there are no clinics near me?

Give Blood clinics move all over the country, so keep an eye on the clinic finder for one near you. If you haven’t given blood before or it’s been a long time, you can also register your interest on the website to receive a message when the next clinic is in town. 

Can I bring my child with me to the clinic?

You can bring your child with you to the clinic, but they must be supervised by an adult at all times. For safety reasons, children are not allowed on the clinic floor. If your child is under 13, they must remain with an adult at all times, while children between the ages of 13-17 must remain in view of a supervising adult. If you are donating blood, you cannot be the sole supervising adult as another adult must supervise your child during donation.

What other factors should I be aware of before donating?

If you are concerned about whether or not you are eligible to donate blood, take the GiveBlood’s Blood Eligibility Quiz right here. Prior to donation, you’ll be given a health and lifestyle questionnaire to complete, and then you’ll have a chat with a trained healthcare professional to see if you are eligible to donate blood. 

What should I do next?

If you still aren’t sure about whether you can give blood, don’t hesitate to call at 1800 731 137. The IBTS needs 15,000 new donors each year so it’s vital that more people who mean to, actually do become blood donors – why not you?

To find a clinic near you, book an appointment, check your eligibility or learn more, visit or call 1800 731 137.