What’s changing?

Before Covid-19, people with genetic haemochromatosis could only register as a blood donor if they :

  • were in maintenance (serum ferritin < 100 u/l)
  • needed venesection/donation less frequently than every 6 weeks

From Friday 8th May 2020, in response to Haemochromatosis UK lobbying, NHS BT will be relaxing their donation criteria so that :

  • if you have genetic haemochromatosis, you can register as a GH (HFE) donor with NHS BT. You will then be able to apply for ring-fenced appointment(s) for donation.
  • If you are already registered with NHS BT, make sure that they know that you have genetic haemochromatosis. People aged over 70 years are unable to donate (due to CV19 measures) UNLESS they have registered as a genetic haemochromatosis donor, first. 
  • if you have genetic haemochromatosis, you will be able to donate if your serum ferritin is <= ~450 u/l (rather than < 100 u/l)
  • if you have genetic haemochromatosis, you will be able to donate up to every 6 weeks to maintain your iron levels (but no more frequently than every 6 weeks)
  • if you have genetic haemochromatosis and have registered with NHS BT, you will have access to between 1 and 5 appointments per donation venue per session (a session is am/pm or both). These have been specifically reserved for people with genetic haemochromatosis and are bookable on a first-come/first-served basis. The blood service are making every effort to make appointments available at your local donor venue, but you may need to be flexible on date and/or location within your area at busy times.
  • These special donation sessions will be available ONLY at mobile donation venues. This is because the static donor centres are being reserved for CV19 convalescent plasma harvesting. We do not want members attending the fixed centres, only MOBILE ones, to minimise infection risks.
  • Appointments are available at locations in England, only *

How do I book a blood donation session?

If you live in England, contact Give Blood directly by telephone (only) on 0300 123 23 23 - ask to register as a donor. They will arrange appointment(s) for you over the phone.

Members with genetic haemochromatosis do not need a referral letter from their consultant. However, serum ferritin/transferrin saturation levels will not be monitored by Give Blood staff, so existing arrangements to get SF/TSAT tested should be continued (eg at GP surgery or hospital unit). Normal donation eligibility criteria apply, so not everyone who wishes to donate will be able to (eg in cases of active CV19 infection).
When does this new scheme start?
From Friday 8th May 2020 at 9am.

Does this scheme apply to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?
No, not as yet. Due to organisational, regional and IT systems challenges, the NHS are only doing this for England at this time. The Welsh Blood Service have rolled out a similar scheme for people living in Wales, subject to a hospital consultant's referral.
As a charity, we are engaging with the devolved administrations to encourage their blood donation services to follow the precedent in England. This may take some time and our lobbying may ultimately be unsuccessful. We will write contact members as soon as we have an update on progress in Northern Ireland & Scotland. Please be assured that members outside England are on our minds and will do our best to get similar arrangements in place for you.

What happens next?
From Friday 8th May 2020 :

  • If you live in England and are not registered as a donor, call 0300 123 23 23 and ask to get registered.
  • If you live in England and are already a registered donor, call 0300 123 23 23 to arrange your donation appointment(s).

We hope this special scheme will be value to many members. If you can, please get involved! 

Our charity is monitoring the progress of this scheme, closely. If you'd like to share your experiences of this scheme, please complete our 2 minute survey.

2-minute Survey