St Albans! Give the gift of blood this Christmas...

Matt Adams gives blood

Matt Adams gives blood - Credit: Archant

Giving blood is quick, easy and saves lives.

St Albans is hosting several clinics, amidst a national drive to cover the Christmas period. In St Albans, there are 3,382 active donors (donors who have given blood in the last two years).

And Herts Ad editor Matt Adams is one of them, since he went along to the Quality Hotel, London Road, last Thursday to make a donation.

But NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for more people to give a gift that only they can, and make a blood - or platelet - donation.

It’s even more crucial this year as the holiday falls just before a weekend, so there are fears that less people will get round to it.

Last year, one in five blood donor appointments were missed over the festive period - putting NHS Blood and Transplant’s critical operation under unnecessary pressure.

Blood donations are used to treat patients with cancer and anaemias, after accidents, complicated childbirth and during surgery.

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Jon Latham, NHS Blood and Transplant’s assistant director, said: “Blood stock levels can drop dramatically over the busy festive period as shopping, celebrations and extended public holidays mean giving blood slips off ‘to do’ lists.

“At this time of year, many people want to give something more than material gifts. A blood donation truly is the gift only you can give, and with one single donation you can save or improve up to three lives.”

Tomorrow (Friday 28 November), you can donate at Sainsbury’s, Everard Close, St Albans, between 12.20pm and 3.20pm and from 5pm until 7.20pm.

And then on December 15, the blood collection folk are back at the Quality Hotel, London Road, between 9.30am and 12.30pm and from 2pm until 4pm.

Blood donations should ideally represent the diverse population. Certain rare blood groups and blood disorders are more common among ethnic communities. For conditions, such as sickle cell anaemia, it is beneficial for patients to receive blood from the same ethnic background.

The NHS says it particularly needs to ensure supplies of more rare blood groups O Rh Negative, A Rh Negative, B Rh Negative and AB Rh Negative, during winter - as these are most vulnerable to shortfall.

For safety reasons, everyone considering donating blood is asked questions about their lifestyle, including health and travel. Such factors help determine eligibility to donate. The NHS recommends that people check before they go to a clinic. This can be done online at

More information about blood donation is available by calling the NHS blood and transplant hotline on 0300 123 2323. Or search ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the app store, on your mobile phone.

When working for a newspaper, it can often feel like you give blood, sweat and tears (of joy, of course). Apparently, somebody mentioned “going for a pint” and he misunderstood … seriously though, to his credit, Herts Ad editor Matt Adams has a history of donating his blood. He’s a bronze donor with a heart of gold. He went along last week to a session - and not just because of the free biscuits.

He said: “Some people might choose to spend their lunchtime imbibing a pint, but it’s a better option for yourself and others if you instead decide to have one extracted.

“Donating blood at one of the regular afternoon sessions locally, should take no time at all. It’s best to pre-book. And there are free biscuits and drinks at the end - if you need any extra incentive!

“As someone who has been giving blood on and off, during the past 20 years, I was happy to do my bit for the cause, especially as I’d lapsed in giving over recent years due to changes of address.

“I don’t have any problems with needles, but even if you are particularly phobic, the process of tapping your vein is over and done, in a matter of seconds, with just a small amount of discomfort.

“And then it’s only a matter of lying there, clenching and unclenching your fist, and performing newly introduced leg exercises, for about 10 minutes. Done and dusted, it’s time for a cuppa and a digestive.

“Improvements in the procedure, facilities and post-donation advice have been introduced in recent years, ensuring the whole experience is much less of an exertion than it once was. And there’s really no reason not to play your part in helping top up much-needed blood supplies.”