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Give blood to save life

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NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities across England and North Wales to make time this Christmas to give a gift only they can give and make a blood – or platelet – donation.

Festively wrapped blood donors launch the NHS Blood service’s nationwide call for people to give blood in the run up to Christmas at the Blood Donor Centre in Tooting recently. The campaign ‘the gift only you can give’ is calling for over 200,000 blood donations to maintain life-saving supplies over the Christmas period. 4 year old Reagan Robinson who suffers with rare blood disorder Diamond Blackfan Anaemia (DBA), joins her sister Kennedy (pictured left) and festively wrapped donors as they launch the NHS Blood service’s nationwide call for people to give blood over the Christmas period. Reagan needed 18 life-saving blood transfusions in the first two years of her life to treat her condition. Her sister Kennedy will donate for the first time after her 17th birthday in December. Photo credit: Adrian Brooks/Imagewise
Festively wrapped blood donors launch the NHS Blood service’s nationwide call for people to give blood in the run up to Christmas at the Blood Donor Centre in Tooting recently. Photo credit: Adrian Brooks/Imagewise

This Christmas more than 200,000 blood donors are needed to give a very special gift and help hundreds of thousands of patients.

BAME communities are especially in demand as some rare blood groups and some blood disorders are more common among ethnic communities. For certain conditions, for example sickle cell anaemia, it is beneficial for patients to receive blood from someone with the same ethnic background.

Last year 1 in 5 blood donor appointments were missed over the festive period putting NHS Blood and Transplant’s critical operation under unnecessary pressure.

Jon Latham, NHS Blood and Transplant Assistant Director said: “Blood stock levels can drop dramatically over the busy festive period as Christmas shopping, celebrations and extended public holidays mean giving blood slips off the nation’s to-do lists.

“At this time of year many people want to give something more than material gifts. A blood donation truly is the gift only you can give and with one single donation you can save or improve up to three lives.

“While people from all communities give blood, only 4% of blood donors who have donated in the past two years are from black, Asian or minority ethnic communities. However, 14% of people living in England and North Wales are black, Asian or minority ethnic. We would like to address this imbalance.”

“Don’t worry if you’ve never given blood before – now is a great time to sign up and start giving.”

Around 210,000 whole blood donations will be needed over the coming six weeks to supply hospitals across England and North Wales treating patients with cancer and anaemias, after accidents or childbirth complications, and during surgery.

And over the festive period 12,500 platelet donations are needed to help treat patients with cancer, serious blood disorders and those who have undergone transplants.

Every blood donation is vital, but over winter months NHS Blood and Transplant particularly needs to ensure supplies of the universal blood group O Rh Negative which is often in short supply as demand is so great. We also need to ensure supplies of the rarer blood groups A Rh Negative, B Rh Negative and AB Rh Negative as these are vulnerable to shortfall.

This year NHS Blood and Transplant faces extra pressure as Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall ahead of a weekend, raising concerns fewer donors than usual will get around to making life saving donations during the busy festive period.