This demand stopped Radka (32) from donating blood

According to the Red Cross, Norway should have 40,000 more blood donors than we have today. Blood donors are vital for the health service in Norway. Many patients cannot survive without blood transfusions.

Before you can donate blood, you must meet a number of requirements. Most are medical. But if you meet all the medical requirements, but do not speak and write fluent Norwegian, then the blood bank drops you.

At least until you have learned Norwegian well enough.

Czech Radka Staňková wanted to become a blood donor and went to the blood bank.

– They told me that I had to come back when I had learned Norwegian. That it was not possible to donate unless I spoke fluent Norwegian.

She was surprised and disappointed by the response.

– I do not think my Norwegian skills affect the quality of my blood.

Will expand the scheme

The Norwegian Directorate of Health sets the requirements for blood donation.

Requirements for blood donors

  • You have to be healthy
  • Between 18 and 65 years
  • Weigh more than 50 kg
  • Speak fluent Norwegian
  • In addition, there are a number of requirements for your state of health

Source: Norwegian Directorate of Health


Section chief physician for the Blood Bank in Oslo Lise Sofie Haug Nissen-Meyer, on the other hand, is critical of the directorate’s language rule.

Coronary restrictions have forced them to limit the number of new donors in recent years. Now they therefore need even more.

– We are behind with several thousand. It ends just as many every year, even though it is a pandemic.

WANTS TO EXPAND: Lise Sofie Haug Nissen-Meyer, Section Chief Physician Blood Bank in Oslo wants to be able to lose blood from English speakers. Photo: Photo: Martin Berg Isaksen / TV 2

Nissen-Meyer therefore believes that the blood bank could have benefited from opening up to English-speaking donors.

– We have received so many inquiries about receiving blood donors who speak English, that I think we could get a couple of hundred who could become blood donors.

– What would that have meant to you?

– All men go. We tap 100-200 people every day. If we had more we could use, it would relieve the others.

Concerned about safety

Before you are allowed to donate blood in Norway, you must fill in two pages long form. Afterwards, you go through the answers in an interview with health personnel at the blood bank. Both the form and the interview must today be done in Norwegian.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health has no plans to initiate a scheme where this can be done in English.

– Why can not you facilitate that you can use English in blood banks?

– It is a possibility, but it is this with language comprehension. How do you verify that the person who comes and says they want to donate blood is good enough in English. And not least blood bank staff who must be fluent in English, says subject manager Ingeborg Hagerup Jensen.

Jensen believes that there is a greater risk of misunderstandings about important health information if the interview is conducted in English.

Subject responsible in the Norwegian Directorate of Health Ingeborg Hagerup Jensen.  Photo: Sveinung Kyte / TV 2

Subject responsible in the Norwegian Directorate of Health Ingeborg Hagerup Jensen. Photo: Sveinung Kyte / TV 2

– But we should have 40,000 more donors, according to the Red Cross?

– It is desirable with more blood donors, among other things to have a good buffer. But as long as we have enough blood for those who need it, it is possible to recruit more donors without it having to go at the expense of the safety of those who will give or receive blood.

However, the Norwegian Directorate of Health allows for OUS able to get the opportunity to start a pilot project with English-speaking donors. The hospital must then itself present a clear plan for the implementation which the directorate will consider.

Jensen nevertheless believes that initiating a general scheme that ensures that the blood donors’ English is good enough will require a lot.

– It will seize a lot of resources in the blood banks.

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