The National Blood Service is dependent on voluntary unpaid blood donors. About 2.4 million donations are collected from 1.8 million donors every year. Without them many medical and surgical procedures could not take place, and many lives could not be saved.
The National Blood Service operates through 3 Transfusion Centres (London and South East Zone in London; Midlands and South West Zone in Bristol and Northern Zone in Leeds) managed by the National Blood Authority. Centres are responsible for the collection of blood and the preparation of blood components such as red cells. They also supply plasma to the Bio Products Laboratory to be made into blood products such as Factor VIII used by haemophiliacs.
All blood which has been collected at a donor session is taken back to the Blood Centre laboratories for testing. Blood is tested for HIV 1 and 2, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. Tests for other infectious diseases are carried out if the blood is to be used by at risk patients (for example blood used for young infants or transplant patients is tested for cytomegalovirus).
The National Blood Authority welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact: National Blood Authority, Oak House, Reeds Crescent, Watford WD1 1QH. Tel: 01923 486800.