Thalassaemic Man Features in Ad. For Blood Donors

Campaign for Blood Donation
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Asian man with thalassaemia features in a new advertising campaign to recruit blood donors . . . .  reports Asian Lite News

Amit Ghelani, a 30 year old man living with Beta Thalassaemia Major, who needs blood transfusions every few weeks, is the heart of a new advertising campaign to highlight the life-saving power of blood donation.

He features in the NHS Blood and Transplant’s new outdoor advertising campaign which enables members of the public to give a virtual blood donation and see the life-saving transformation of patients before their eyes.

Amit from Wembley is one of three people whose lives have been saved by blood transfusions who is taking part in the campaign. He hopes to encourage people who have never given blood before to register to donate blood for the first time.

Amit was diagnosed with Beta Thalassaemia Major at 18 months old, and requires blood transfusions every three weeks, with each transfusion taking six hours.  He says: “I’m really delighted to be taking part in this campaign to encourage people to sign up as blood donors.  I’m dependent on people going out and donating blood so I can live. Giving blood is so selfless – you don’t know who it’s for, where it’s going or why they’ll need it, but you know that giving up an hour of your time and donating is so powerful. I wouldn’t be here without blood donors.”

The campaign, which was created by agency 23Red and won a digital outdoor advertising competition run by Ocean Outdoor, uses innovative augmented reality technology to enable members of the public give a virtual blood donation via an iphone.

The campaign uses an augmented reality app which connects to a large advertising screen featuring an empty blood bag and ill patient. Visual recognition is used to detect a sticker on the recipient’s skin which then overlays a plaster, needle and tube over their arm.

Campaign for Blood  Donation
Campaign for Blood Donation

As the participant watches they see ‘blood’ flowing down the tube from their arm and up onto the screen in front of them. As the blood bag fills up, the virtual donor can watch as the sick patient gradually returns to health before their eyes. It is the first time an augmented reality app has been used in this way to trigger animation via one of Ocean Outdoor’s giant screens.

A make up artist worked closely with Amit and the two other people involved,  to recreate how they looked when they were sick and in need of a transfusion. Personal photographs and feedback were used to ensure that the images in the campaign are as accurate and true to life as they can be.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.6 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England and faces a constant challenge to recruit the right mix of donors across all the various blood groups. There is a particular need to attract younger donors (from 17 years old) and people from South Asian and black communities. People from South Asian and black communities are more likely to have rarer blood types and conditions, like Thalassaemia or Sickle Cell Disease respectively, which require regular blood transfusions.

People requiring regular blood transfusions need blood from donors with a similar ethnic background to provide the best match and better outcomes in the long term.  Only two per cent of people who have given blood in England in the last 12 months come from South Asian or mixed race communities.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs just under 200,000 new donors to register to give blood this year. They will replace those are no longer able to donate, those who can’t donate temporarily due to travel or other short term restrictions and also help ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to meet future patient needs.

Ian Trenholm, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “With just under 200,000 new donors needed every year, we need to find ways to show people the importance of blood donation. We hope that by getting people to give a virtual donation, we can get them thinking and explain what it takes to become a real life donor. The virtual experience gives an insight into the personal reward and satisfaction our loyal donors feel when they give blood and know they are saving lives. Each unit of blood donated can help save or improve the lives of up to three people.”

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