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Giving blood and donating organs
Health

Giving blood and donating organs

1 by Sarita RAO 5 min. 27.08.2022
Blood for transfusions and organ donations are both in high demand. Find out how to give blood and to sign up for a passport to life card
Just under 14,000 people donated blood in Luxembourg in 2021, but the average age of donors was 43 years. The Red Cross hopes to encourage younger donors
Just under 14,000 people donated blood in Luxembourg in 2021, but the average age of donors was 43 years. The Red Cross hopes to encourage younger donors
Photo credit: Gerry Huberty

The Red Cross is always looking for blood donors in Luxembourg, particularly during and after the holiday season when stocks are depleted. 

It relies on registered donors to give regularly, because of the country's small population. Roughly 14,000 people gave blood in 2021, and the average age of donors was 43 years.

Blood is usable for 42 days after donation, and platelets for up to a week, but plasma can be stored and used for up to three years, making all types of donation vital to Luxembourg’s hospitals for blood transfusion during surgery. Every 500ml of blood donated can help up to three patients in need of a transfusion.

Who can give blood

You must be aged 18 to 60 years, weigh more than 50 kilos (if you weigh less, you may be able to donate plasma), and be in a healthy condition where donating blood will not adversely affect you or the recipient.

You may be asked to wait for a period of time before giving blood for a number of reasons. If you’ve had a Covid-19 vaccination you must wait a month before donating. New mothers must wait six months, as must anyone who has visited a tropical or malaria region. There are also some waiting restrictions on anyone treated with needles such as acupuncture or getting a tattoo.

It’s worth noting that if you lived in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) between 1980 to 1996 (when there were outbreaks of mad cow disease) for a period of 12 months or more, you cannot be accepted for blood donation due to current international rules. 

Regular donors should leave an interval of three months for men, and four months for women, between giving blood.

How to donate blood

First-time donors should register in one of the following ways to make an appointment at the main Blood Transfusion Centre at 42 Boulevard Joseph II. You can do so in person, by telephoning 27 55 4000, by emailing transfusion.secretariat@croixrouge.lu or online here.

The centre is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8.00 to 16.00 and on Wednesday and Thursday from 8.00 until 18.00. You will need to bring your ID card or passport plus your social security card or 13 digit identification number (matricule). Registration will require your name, address, telephone number and possibly a photo.

You might have to wait before you give blood if you've had a Covid vaccination, a tattoo or accupuncture or been to a country that has malaria
You might have to wait before you give blood if you've had a Covid vaccination, a tattoo or accupuncture or been to a country that has malaria
Photo: Lex Kleren

Your blood will be analysed to ensure that there will be no potential transmission of virus, bacteria, parasites or antibodies to the recipient, and you will also have an appointment with a doctor to ensure there is no risk to you. If there is a risk, you will be informed confidentially.

You should eat normally (don’t fast) and stay hydrated. On the day of donation, avoid sports before and after and don’t go to a sauna.

If  you’ve registered and donated before in Luxembourg, you can give blood again at other collection points at Clervaux, Colpach, Differdange, Dudelange, Ettelbruck, Esch-Belval, Grevenmacher and Wiltz. You can find dates and times for these collection points here.

Companies can encourage employees to donate blood, either by giving them time off to visit a blood transfusion centre or by organising on-site donation. In the latter case, the Red Cross requires that at least 80 employees are willing to donate blood and ask for donations to be regular – between one to three times a year. They will need a clean, disinfected space to set up (no carpet or wood flooring) and all medical information on employees will be treated as confidential and not shared with the company. You can find out more about setting up a company donation here.

You can find out more about blood donation in Luxembourg here.

Passport to life – organ donor card

Organs are automatically donated in the event of death for residents in Luxembourg but you can put your wishes for donation (or not to donate) on your Passport for Life card
Organs are automatically donated in the event of death for residents in Luxembourg but you can put your wishes for donation (or not to donate) on your Passport for Life card
Photo: Eberhard Wolf

Since 1982, all deceased people legally resident in Luxembourg are potential organ donors, which means that if you object to having your organs removed after death you need to state this in writing whilst you are still alive.

Luxembourg Transplant says that the most vital organs donated are kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and corneas. According to Protransplant.lu about six people in the Grand Duchy die each year because no compatible organ could be found in time.

Luxembourg, together with Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovenia, is a member of Eurotransplant, which seeks to help match donors with those requiring a transplant across these countries.  

The Ministry of Health in Luxembourg issues a donor card, called a “Passport to Life” which will state your wish or refusal to be a donor. It will make it easier for medical teams, and in the event of an untimely or unexpected death, can be invaluable to your family from an emotional point of view.

Who should get a Passport to Life?

Any resident in Luxembourg can specify if they want to be an organ donor, and there is no age limit, although where the deceased is disabled or a minor, organs can only be removed with the authorisation of a legal representative (in the case of parents, both must give their consent for organ donation).

How to get a Passport to Life

You can get one at a pharmacy, doctor’s office, your commune or at the reception desk for Guichet or order one online here. You will need to fill in different fields and specify your choice on organ donation, and you should keep this passport with you at all times. You can also commit to writing an authorisation or refusal to have organs removed after death, and this will be considered the equivalent of a passport to life.

The video below shows how one donor in Luxembourg saved several lives. 



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