Fewer men donate blood than women

25th Jan 2019
Fewer men donate blood than women

(Photo: /blood.co.uk)

When it comes to donating blood more women are coming forward to donate than men. Why more women are coming forward is unclear but health experts are saying that men’s blood is important as it can be used to provide life-saving products like plasma and platelets, which can be used to treat a wide range of conditions from traffic accident victims to cancer patients.

To encourage more male donors health staff are urging more men to come forward and give blood this year. Last year 830,000 people gave blood in England, but 200,000 new donors are needed to give blood every year to replace those who can no longer donate regularly due to things like ill health, foreign travel or pregnancy

Understanding the different ways blood can be used helps to underline why it’s important for men to come forward and donate blood. Men tend to be bigger than women and have higher iron levels, which means they are less likely to be below the necessary limits for giving blood in the first place.

They also tend to have slightly higher platelets levels. Whilst different blood groups are important, as recipients of blood transfusions should only receive compatible blood types, blood donations are used for more than just blood transfusions following extensive blood loss (such as in accidents or during surgery).

Blood is made of different components, including plasma (the fluid part of the blood), red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Plasma contains many proteins and other substances, which are extracted and used in a variety of different medical products. Plasma can also be used in transfusions and to help with blood clotting.

Platelets can be separated from the blood and given to patients who are unable to make enough of their own platelets (they are made in bone marrow), for example, patients with leukaemia and patients who have received treatment that has affected their ability to make platelets. Platelets cannot be stored for long so a regular supply is needed. Red blood cells are used to treat not only blood loss but also severe anaemia and blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia.

 

So why do we need more male volunteers? Experts say that men’s blood, in general, has a higher platelet count than women meaning they are more likely to be accepted as platelet donors. Men’s blood is better at clotting, making it more effective to stop bleeding after injury or surgery in emergencies such as road traffic accidents.

It also has higher levels of iron, meaning they are less likely to be deferred from donating due to lack of iron in the blood. In addition, men’s blood is less likely to contain antibodies against red and white blood cells, making it more suitable for creating blood products such as plasma and platelets. This is because women often develop antibodies to certain blood cell types during pregnancy and these can potentially present adverse reactions if given to vulnerable patients.

Rachel Kayani

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