Who can be a blood donor in France and how to help if subject to UK ban

It only takes 10 minutes to give blood, and booking an appointment is easy

It is not only Britons who may face restrictions when giving blood

France has launched a new drive for blood donations following World Blood Donor Day on Friday (June 14).

Whilst former restrictions on blood donations from gay people have been lifted in France, there is still a ban for some people who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996. 

Britons who are still deemed healthy enough to give blood may still be able to donate, however, even if it is not directly used for transfusions.

Below, we cover how blood donations work in France, as well as how those who cannot give blood can still contribute. 

How to book an appointment, and who can make one? 

Before you book an appointment to give blood, you will need to fill out an online questionnaire to see whether you are eligible, which you can do here

This also applies if you wish to donate plasma or platelets. 

The questionnaire (in French) will check your age, weight, height, medical status and history, to see if you are eligible. 

You can also find disqualifying criteria on the official Service public website.

Generally, most people between the ages of 18 and 70 who weigh more than 50 kgs will be able to donate.

If you are aged between 60 and 70, the ability to give blood may be dependent on approval from a doctor, and you can give blood less often than younger people. 

Nobody over the age of 71 can give blood in France.

Donating blood is a voluntary act in France, and you are not paid for doing so.

What does an appointment consist of?

You can use the dondesang website (also linked above) to find your nearest donation centre, and book an appointment online through them.

Once you arrive at the donation centre, you will need to confirm your identity, have a medical check, and then will have to wait around 20 to 30 minutes. 

The donation itself takes only 10 minutes but there may be delays or backlogs, so bringing a book or other entertainment is recommended. 

It is best to assume the appointment will take around half a day from beginning to end, to make sure you leave plenty of time. 

The number of blood donations you can give throughout the year is limited. 

You must wait eight weeks between each donation, and can only give blood four times per year if you are a woman, or six if you are a man. 

However, plasma and platelets donations can be more frequent. 

Read more: How your cat or dog can also be a blood donor in France

What if I cannot give blood? 

If you lived in the UK for at least one year between January, 1980 and December 1996, you cannot give blood in France, due to the outbreak of mad cow disease. Note this does not strictly apply to Britons only, but someone of any nationality who lived in the UK during this time

You are also unable to give blood if you: 

  • Had a previous transfusion or transplant at any point in your life

  • Might transmit a disease-causing bacterium, virus or parasite through your blood

  • Might transmit a viral infection you got through sexual contact

  • Are pregnant

However, Britons who are banned from giving blood but are otherwise healthy can still donate it to be used for non-therapeutic reasons, such as training purposes for staff. 

You can speak to someone at your nearby donation centre about this, or alternatively contact the EFS (Établissement français du sang) directly online. 

Britons – even if subject to the ban on blood donation – can donate their organs in France. 

Read more: Can British people banned from giving blood in France be organ donors?

Read more: How to be an organ donor in France