Want to donate blood? NHS’ Mark Croucher tells you what you need to know

Virgin Radio

12 Jun 2024, 10:02

Credit: Virgin Radio

Assistant Director of Donor Experience Services for NHS Blood and Transplant, Mark Croucher spoke to Chris Evans about National Blood Donor Week.

During National Blood Donor Week (which runs from 10th to 16th June) the NHS is raising awareness of the life saving importance of blood donation and encouraging those who have never donated to give it a go. Joining the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar, Mark said: “We need blood all year round, every single day, so whether you can donate this week, next week or the week after, it's still hugely important and helpful.”

Blood has a shelf life of just 35 days, so it’s crucial that people keep coming forward and donate as much as possible, to keep stocks strong through the year. “Generally, blood is used so quickly, which is why we have to respond to demand so quickly, because hospitals need it every single day,” Mark explained. “So your blood could get used within days of donating.”



Matthew Hussey reveals why chemistry in a relationship isn’t as important as you think

World's happiest man' shares the secret to a happy life

Dr Rangan Chatterjee reveals the question you need to answer every day to help 'make better decisions'


Every minute, the NHS needs three lifesaving blood donations. Mark said: "And what's extra special is we send you a little text to let you know that it's been used. It just reconfirms the three lives that you could have saved.”

Speaking about blood types, the NHS worker said: “There's eight different blood groups. Some are super rare. Some are less rare. O positive and O negative are the ones that generally are really helpful, because they're universal types. So it can go to anybody. We open 364 days a year. We collect blood pretty much every day of the year, over 5,000 appointments a day. So you know, it's huge numbers. It's a big operation and lots of lives that we save. So thank you to our donors.”

There are currently only 800,000 active blood donors in the UK. “There's a number of reasons why people can't give blood, unfortunately. And only two percent of the population actually give blood, so it's a small number,” Mark revealed. “Our nurses do regular checks. When you sign up to donate, you have a little health check, and they'll go through all of your medical history, and we'll make an individual decision on whether you're able to donate or not.”

Regarding how long the process takes, the Assistant Director of Donor Experience Services explained: “Everybody draws blood at a different rate, but generally the overall experience is about an hour. You're in the chair for probably around 15 to 20 minutes, max. 

“We're all completely individual, right? We see some of our donors comparing times!”

And regarding what age you need to be to donate, Mark said that you can start at 17 “and you can donate all the way up to 65 as a first time donor. But once you're a regular donor, there is no age limit. You just keep going.”

Chris asked if 17-year-olds need permission from their parents, to which Mark replied: “No, you're a responsible adult. So come and get the free biscuit! Pop down, sign up and join our tribe of excellent blood donors!”

Talking of which, Mark said: “We select our biscuits carefully. It's a hot debate from our donors! 

“It's either an orange club or a mint club that seems to split the difference. 

“So in our donor centres, we've got hot drinks, so tea, coffee, and then our mobile venues, we've got a load of cold refreshments. But most people sit there and try and work out which is the best snack that they want to take away with them!” 

Mark concluded: “A huge thanks to everybody that's come forward. This week, we're super busy, which is exactly what we needed. But if you can't get in this week, do come and try next week, the week after. We need every donor all year round. That's what we're looking for, really, a pool of regular donors.”

For more information and to sign up visit blood.co.uk.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.