Call for blood donors as France’s stocks reach critically low levels

As part of a three-week drive to increase donations, people will be able to give blood without booking an appointment in advance

28 September 2021

France is currently short of some 30,000 bags of blood. A blood drive will take place over the next three weeks to attempt to make up for this shortage Pic: Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

By Thomas Brent

France’s stocks of blood have reached a “dangerously critical” level, the agency in charge of donations and transfusions has said, calling for a donation drive over the next three weeks. 

The country is short of around 33,000 bags of blood, the Etablissement français du sang (EFS) said yesterday (September 27). 

To increase blood reserves, the agency says it is ready for "an exceptional mobilisation of its teams", who will welcome all donors, "including those who come without an appointment". 

In the last two weeks, about 15% of the appointments have remained vacant.

Who can donate blood in France?

You must be over 18 years old and under 70 to give blood in France, but there are a number of other criteria too related to weight, medical history, tattoos and piercing, and sex life. 

The easiest way to know if you are eligible is to take this short survey on the EFS website (in French). As soon as you choose an option that makes you ineligible to give blood in France, an information box will pop up to tell you.

One factor that disqualifies someone from giving blood is those who spent over one year in total in the UK between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1996. This is due to the outbreak of mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) in the UK at the time. 

EFS states that if you fall into this category, there are other ways to support the blood drive. For example, you can donate your blood for non-therapeutic use (for teaching and medical research). To do so, you should ask at a donation centre or find out more by phoning 0800 109 900.

Another factor, that is soon to be changed, is that a man who has had sex with another man in the past four months cannot donate blood. 

This rule is set to change from the beginning of 2022 after an amendment was adopted in the French parliament in June this year. It will mean that a man who has had relations with one other man within the past four months will be able to donate blood, bringing it in line with the rules around heterosexual relations. 

How can I book an appointment?

The EFS has stated that as part of its blood drive, people will be able to drop into donation centres without appointments.

However, if you wish to make an appointment in advance you can do so by booking online here

You can also find your nearest donation centre by searching on the EFS website here

What documents do I need?

If it is your first donation, you should bring an ID (national identity card, passport or residence permit). Otherwise, your donor card is sufficient. You do not need to bring your carnet de santé. 

And in true French style, all donors will be offered a light meal after their donation. This usually consists of biscuits, bread and charcuterie, etc. There will also be drinks and water available too. 

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