Over the last year, 900,000 people have given up their time to help patients in need, but 200,000 new blood donors are needed each year to ensure that patients in the future have access to the blood they need, when they need it.
Last year, 5,997 people in Northumberland gave blood at least once. But new blood donors are crucial for ensuring there is the right mix of blood groups to meet patient need in the years to come.
There is a particular need for more young people, who will become the next generation of donors. Half of all donors in England are over 45 so it’s important to recruit younger people to donate blood to help meet patient needs now and in the future.
There is also a need more black donors. Approximately 10,000 black people donated blood last year. The service urgently needs 40,000 new black donors to give blood and 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 one per cent of current blood donors are black.
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 more than seven 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.
If you’re already a blood donor, why not look into whether you could become a platelet donor. Donors with the A negative blood group are needed particularly as they can help any patient, regardless of blood type. One platelet donation can help up to three adults or 12 babies or children. You can donate platelets at a number of dedicated centres around the country.
However, despite the plea for more donors, last week we reported that blood-donor sessions in Rothbury are to be scrapped due to the ‘limited number’ of donors that the village can accommodate.
Rothbury will hold its last appointments on Wednesday, August 16, at the Jubilee Institute.