A campaign has launched urging people in Lincolnshire to say #ImThere and help save lives by registering as new blood donors.
National Blood Week takes place from today until Sunday, June 25, with the focus of this year’s big awareness drive firmly fixed on encouraging new donors to sign up and ensure patients’ needs are met in the years to come.
According to NHS Blood And Transplant, 900,000 people have given up their time to donate blood in the past year. However, 200,000 new donors are needed each year to make sure the right mix of blood groups is available.
The campaign is particularly keen to get young people on board to become the next generation of donors. Half of all donors in England are over 45, meaning the importance of recruiting younger people is essential for the future.
Health bosses also say more black donors are required. Around 10,000 black people donated blood last year but 40,000 new donors are needed to 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 per cent of current blood donors are black.
Mike Stredder, director of blood donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Every day, blood donors from Lincolnshire 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 past two years to continue donating.
If you’re already a blood donor, you could also look into becoming a platelet donor. Donors with the A negative blood group are especially needed 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.