Start donating blood to help fill the gaps

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NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed that 40 per cent fewer new volunteers came forward across England and North Wales to give blood last year compared to a decade ago.

The organisation is calling for more people to help fill the gaps by starting to donate in Milton Keynes.

To mark the start of National Blood Week next week, which culminates with World Blood Donor Day on Sunday, NHS Blood and Transplant has explained that 204,000 new volunteers need to come forward this year across England and North Wales to keep the nation’s blood stocks at a safe level for the future.

Regular donations are crucial to saving and improving the lives of patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery.

1,117 new volunteers came forward to donate blood for the first time in Milton Keynes last year, 6 per 1,000 of the estimated number of people between the ages of 17 and 70 living there.

26 per 1000 people are active donors in Milton Keynes. 4,560 people living in Milton Keynes donated blood at least once last year, saving or improving up to three lives each time they did so.

During National Blood Week, NHS Blood and Transplant is working with partners including businesses, media and celebrities such as Jamie Oliver, Jorgie Porter and Claudia Winkleman to promote blood donation. They have been removing the letters A, O and B (the letters that make up the blood groups) from their names, raising awareness of the need for new blood donors with all blood types.

This ‘Missing Type’ campaign highlights that if not enough new people donate blood and these ‘types’ were to go missing in years to come, there wouldn’t be enough blood available when patients need it.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs new donors to fill the gaps left by existing donors who are not able to give blood at this time and to ensure that we have the right mix of blood groups to match patients’ needs.

A number of misconceptions still exist about donating blood; almost half (48%) of the people responding to an NHS Blood and Transplant survey said they think that the NHS asks friends and family to donate when a patient needs blood and 13% think that synthetic blood is created to meet the national demand. However, 8 out of 10 people knew that unpaid volunteers are the way that blood stocks are maintained.

In 2015, 204,000 new volunteers need to attend a session to donate to ensure that the nation’s blood stocks continue to remain at a safe level in the future. When a survey asked for the reasons why they don’t give blood, respondents gave a range of reasons. The top three given were a fear of needles (22%), knowing it’s a good thing to do but not getting around to it (27%) and health problems so they don’t believe they are eligible to donate (21%), which may not be the case.

In contrast, 86% of respondents who had given blood felt that it was as expected, or easier than they expected it to be.

There are a number of ways you can support National Blood Week and the Missing Type campaign:

· If you are 17 or over, visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23 today to find out if you are eligible to donate, register as a blood donor and to book your appointment

· Download our app by searching ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the App store. It’s available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices

· Show your support for blood donation on social media during National Blood Week by posting about blood donation and removing the As, Os and Bs, using #missingtype