@GiveBloodNHS need 40,000 new black donors

Ladywood MP answers the call for more blood donors

Shabana Mahmood and three members of her team took time out to save and improve lives by giving blood at Birmingham Donor Centre on Tuesday 8th August. 

Shabana has always been aware of the importance of giving blood but the NHS Blood and Transplant campaign ‘I’m there’ during National Blood week in June reminded Shabana of just how easy it is to give blood and Shabana and her team made appointments to donate at the New Street site.

Shabana said: “Giving blood was a very positive experience, and painless too! It's a quick and easy way to do some good and can save lives. Members of my family have needed blood while undergoing treatment in hospital."

Mehreen Fazal, a policy case worker joined Shabana for her first donation.

Mehreen said: “Donating blood was so straightforward and much easier than I thought it would be. Blood donations saved my father's life; I plan to give blood now whenever I can."

One of the biggest challenges facing NHS Blood and Transplant is to recruit an estimated 40,000 black donors to meet the rising demand. NHS Blood and Transplant has seen a 75% increase in the amount of requests for Ro blood, a sub group most common in black donors.

The primary reason for this is due to advances in the treatment of sickle cell disease, which means that patients are living longer, and the demand for transfusions is higher than ever before.

In the UK, 15,000 people have sickle cell disease and over 300 babies are born each year with the condition, making it the most common and fastest growing genetic disorder in the UK. The condition can cause extreme pain, life-threatening infections and other complications such as stroke or loss of vision.

In addition people from South Asian, Arab or Mediterranean heritage are more likely to have conditions, such as Thalassemia, which mean they need regular blood transfusions. There are an estimated 1,000 people in the UK who have Thalassaemia. 32% of South Asian donors are B positive compared to 7% of Caucasian donors.

We currently meet the need for B positive and Ro blood from our existing donors, the majority of whom are caucasian. However, if we can match transfusion dependant patients with a donor of similar ethnic background we would be able to provide a better outcome, with a reduced risk of suffering a reaction and developing antibodies which can restrict future treatment.

Karen Healy, Communications and Marketing Officer for Birmingham at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

 “We are delighted that Shabana and her team are supporting blood donation and helping to raise awareness in Birmingham. We always need new people in Birmingham to start donating blood to ensure that stocks across the country are healthy now and in the future.

“In particular we need donors from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to help ensure we meet hospital demands. I hope that people in Ladywood and across Birmingham will be inspired to visit the donor centre with the knowledge that their donations save lives and that it is an easy thing to do.”

You can register as a donor, find out whether we’ve got a session coming up in your area and book an appointment to donate whenever and wherever you are through www.blood.co.uk or by using our app on your Android, Windows or Apple device. To download an app for your device, search 'NHSGiveBlood' in the app store.

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.