Giving blood in the Netherlands

Behind the scenes at Sanquin

Located behind Amsterdam Sloterdijk hospital, next to the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Sanquin pronounced sanqueen) is a unique three-in-one organisation for blood: blood bank, blood research centre and manufacturer of medicines from plasma. The name Sanquin is derived fro the French word for blood
‘sanguine’, and the Latin word for blood ‘sanguis’. The organisation employs about 2800 people (60% part-time).

Blood transfusion: a British first

The British pioneered blood transfusion. In 1818 gynaecologist James Blundell performed the first successful blood transfusion and in 1921 Sir Percy Oliver set up the first public blood transfusion service in London. The first blood transfusion in the Netherlands took place in Rotterdam in 1925. Through a long series of reorganisations the blood banks in the Netherlands and the central blood research laboratory became a single organisation in 1997.

How can I give blood in the Netherlands?
Unfortunately many Zine readers are currently not permitted to give blood in the Netherlands. If you have been in the UK for a total of more than six months between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 1996 then there is a risk you might be carrying Creutzfeld-Jakob (mad cow) disease. As blood cannot be tested for this disease, the Dutch authorities have decided to exclude anybody who might carry it from giving blood.

However, all other foreign nationals aged between 18 and 65 years are eligible to donate blood. Donating blood is voluntary in the Netherlands. Donors are not paid for their service like they are in some other countries. You can register on a special page of the Sanquin website. After registration you will receive an information package and an invitation to attend a blood donor health check. During this health check your blood will be tested and your blood type determined. If the test results are good, you will be invited to donate blood at a later date. On average donors give blood 1.6 times per year. For plasma donors (the liquid without blood cells) the average number of donations is 5.9 per year.

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