Blood donors are being urged to come forward in France to help the country through May.
Those with blood type O are in particular demand, said France’s blood collection organisation Etablissement français du sang (EFS).
“With the four public holidays and the long weekends [in May], more than 25,000 blood bags will not be collected by the EFS teams,” said EFS in a press release. “However, during this period patients continue to need blood products to be treated.”
Donors will be needed throughout the holiday periods because the lifespan of blood products is limited. Red blood cells can last for 42 days, but platelets expire after just seven.
EFS said around 10,000 blood donations are needed every day for transfusions for patients across France, but O-type levels are running low.
It said: “For several weeks, blood reserves have been widely stable, but stocks of one blood type are dropping significantly; type O, and in particular the O rhesus negative.”
Blood type O is in particular demand. This is because it can be given to everyone else, whatever their blood type. However, just 6% of the population is type O, and they can only be given type O themselves.
How can I register and give blood in France?
You can register and find your nearest blood donation centre on the website dondesang.efs.sante.fr, or on the smartphone app Don de Sang, which is available for iOS and Android.
You can search by your postcode and address for the nearest blood donation drive and find out whether the centre is permanent or mobile.
The website and app will also tell you the date and time that donations are being taken. The times will usually be a window, such as 09:00 to 15:30, or 14:00 to 16:00.
You can then make an appointment, and select whether you want to give blood, plasma or platelets.
Before giving blood, you will need to confirm that you are eligible to do so. You can do this via the online quiz here. The quiz asks questions about your medical, sexual, and travel history; and details on how long it has been since you have given blood, or when you last had a piercing or tattoo.
One important criterion to be aware of is that to be eligible to give blood in France, you must not have spent more than one year total in the UK between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1996.
This is because of an outbreak of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or ‘mad cow disease’) during this period. The protein that causes CJD can be transmitted via blood transfusion (but the NHS states that this has happened just five times in the UK).
If the quiz says you are eligible, this is no guarantee. You will first take part in a medical interview at the blood donation centre before you give to double-check your eligibility. If you are not eligible you can still help with blood drives by working as an ambassador or a centre volunteer, or by donating money.
On the day of the donation, you are advised to drink plenty of water and eat before you go. You will also need photo ID when you arrive.
You can only give blood once every eight weeks, platelets every four weeks, and plasma every two weeks.