NHS Blood and Transplant is urging people in Lancashire to say #ImThere and start saving lives by registering as new blood donors during National Blood Week (19th – 25th June).
Over the last year, 900,000 people have given up their time to help patients in need. But 200,000 new blood donors are needed each year to ensure that patients in the future have access to the blood they need, when they need it.
Last year, 20,762 people in Lancashire gave blood at least once. But new blood donors are crucial for ensuring we have the right mix of blood groups to meet patient need in the years to come.
There is a particular need for more young people, who will become the next generation of donors. Half of all donors in England are over 45 so it’s important we recruit younger people to donate blood to help meet patient needs now and in the future.
We also need more black donors. Approximately 10,000 black people donated blood last year. But we need more. We urgently need 40,000 new black donors to give blood and help save the lives of patients with sickle cell disease across England.
Sickle cell disease is the fastest growing genetic condition in England and most common in black people, causing extreme pain, life-threatening infections and other complications such as stroke or loss of vision.
To get the best treatment, patients who receive regular blood transfusions for conditions like sickle cell disease, need blood which is closely matched to their own. This is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity. Yet only 1% of current blood donors are black.
Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “Every day, blood donors from Lancashire make a difference; saving people whose lives depend on blood. Whether it is patients receiving treatment for cancer, blood disorders, after accidents, surgery or during childbirth.
“Thanks to the generosity of our loyal network of regular donors, we can ensure that hospitals have the blood needed to treat patients and, as recent weeks have sadly proven, make certain our stocks are strong enough to respond to major incidents and emergencies.
“At the same time, there is an ongoing need for more young donors to safeguard blood donation for future generations. And it is vital our blood donors, reflect the diversity of the population because blood types vary across communities. Those who rely on regular transfusions, need blood which is more closely matched than by group alone, and this will often come from donors of the same ethnicity.
“Don’t worry if you’ve never given blood before and don’t know what blood group you are – you find out shortly after your first donation. What’s important is that you register as a donor and book your first appointment to donate. By saying ‘I’m there’, you can save the life of someone else, while going about yours.”
Donating blood should take no more than an hour from appointment time and each donation can save or improve up to three lives.
In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.
If you’re already a blood donor, why not look into whether you could become a platelet donor. We particularly need donors with the A negative blood group as they can help any patient, regardless of blood type. One platelet donation can help up to three adults or twelve babies or children. You can donate platelets at a number of dedicated centres around the country.
To sign up as a new donor or book an appointment, visit: www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.