NHS Blood and Transplant is urging people from the black community to make becoming a blood donor their New Year’s resolution for 2019.
New figures today reveal 426 black people in England became New Year blood donors in 2018. This means they registered last January to give blood and carried that commitment through last year.
There is a particular call for more men to donate as they are more likely to have blood that can be used for some products such as platelets and allogeneic serum drops to treat people with dry eye conditions. (2)
Donors of every gender are welcome, and men and women can have the same blood groups. However, men’s blood can contain fewer antibodies against red and white blood cells because women often make these antibodies during pregnancy. This means male blood can be more suitable for creating blood products used to treat patients. (3) Men also generally have higher iron levels than women, so they are less likely to be deferred from donating due to low haemoglobin.
Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said:
“It’s vital that more men start donating blood because their blood is used to provide life-saving products like plasma and platelets – to save victims of burns, car crashes and treat to patients with cancer.
“We’re incredibly grateful to all our female donors who are vital in providing lifesaving blood to those in need. But we need men to catch up with recent recruitment because their blood can have different characteristics which can make it important in certain situations.”
Sickle cell disease is the most common and fastest growing genetic disorder in England and the UK. It mainly affects black people and many patients rely on regular blood transfusions to help treat and prevent the painful symptoms and complications, which can include stroke and loss of vision. These patients require blood which is more closely matched that group alone, and this is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity. Yet only 1% of current blood donors are black.
Giving blood is quick and easy and just one donation can save or improve the lives of three people desperately in need of a blood transfusion.
Mike Stredder added:
“Across England, 830,000 people gave blood in 2018. This year, we are asking people to make a resolution that makes you feel amazing and saves lives.
“We know lots of people often make a New Year’s resolution to give blood, but many don’t keep it. We need those who have taken the first step and registered to give blood to keep that resolution and make an appointment to donate.”
More than 200,000 new donors are needed to give blood every year across England to replace those who can no longer donate regularly due to things like ill health, foreign travel or pregnancy.
It is quick and easy to make,view and change appointments by calling 0300 123 23 23, using the GiveBlood app, or going online at www.blood.co.uk