Around 6,000 units of blood are needed every day to help save the lives of sick and injured people across England and Wales, and for some people who have experienced severe blood loss, a blood transfusion can mean the difference between life and death. In addition, 135,000 new blood donors are required each year to replace those who stop donating and to ensure that there is the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future.
Three types of key donors are needed:
• New male donors: Women can produce antibodies during pregnancy – antibodies are part of the bodies defence system and make it harder to safely transfuse the blood without the risk of a reaction. Male donors often have less antibodies which means the plasma and platelets from male donors can be used more often, helping to save people with burns, serious injuries, and cancer.
• New black blood donors: More and more black people are saving lives by donating blood but there is still a shortage. Black donors are more likely to have the rarer blood types needed by some black patients.
• New donors with O negative blood, the ‘universal’ donor type: The red blood cells can be given to almost anyone in any emergency. If you are O negative there’s a one in three chance your relatives have this important blood type too.
Dr Andrew Doddrell, Chair of Lincolnshire East CCG, said: “Red blood cells only have a shelf life of 35 days and platelets have a shelf life of just five days.
“This means that blood cannot be stockpiled, making it vital for existing and new blood donors to keep coming forwards, to ensure that supplies of blood are available when they are needed.”
“It is easy sometimes to put off giving blood. We can all get caught up in enjoying our holidays and planning things to do, but it would be really helpful if more of us could take just a few minutes out of our schedule to give blood.”
Generally speaking, provided you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50 kg), and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before), you should be able to give blood. People aged over 70 need to have given blood in the last two years in order to continue donating.
To find out more or book an appointment to donate visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.