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Help avoid a double dip in blood donations this Easter as NHSBT currently has only 3.5 days stock

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging donors to help prevent a double dip in blood donations by making and keeping their appointments to give blood in the run up to Easter

Blood stocks illustrationDue to recent freezing weather and snow, many people have not been able to donate. The bad weather has also led to some sessions being cancelled and we lost 6-7,000 units of blood - the equivalent of a whole days’ worth of stock - which could take weeks to recover. On top of that, blood stocks are more likely to drop around public holidays like Easter when people go on holiday or enjoy days out with the family.

Current blood stocks are vulnerable and we need donors to help us make sure we have enough to supply what is needed to hospitals. Stock Holding Units ideally hold 6 days’ worth of blood to supply local hospitals. Currently, the units supplying blood to hospitals across the country have on average just 3.5 days’ worth of blood stock, so it’s vital donors help replenish these stocks.

At the moment, stocks are particularly low on group O, group B and A positive blood.

Hospitals across England need more than 6,000 blood donations every day to treat patients in emergency situations or with ongoing treatment for things like blood disorders or cancers.

Harley Penty is one little boy who knows how vital blood is. The 3-year-old from Derby has been receiving blood transfusions and other blood products since March 2016 as part of his treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

His mum, Leanne, says: “Harley was 15 months old and a normal baby. I found a rash on his neck with pink dots so we took him to A&E at Derby straight away because we were worried about meningitis. They did blood tests and they said it wasn't meningitis but there was something there.

"They did more tests at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham and they said it was leukaemia. It was just a massive shock. It wasn't something that we even considered.”

Harley has had more than 50 transfusions of platelets, and more than 25 of blood. The transfusions mostly came during the aggressive chemotherapy treatment, when he sometimes needed more than three a week.

"Before a blood transfusion he would be very pale and have no energy,” said Leanne. “Afterwards, he would be back to his usual self and full of energy.

“Harley wouldn't be here without blood donors. Blood donation was something we'd never thought about. A lot of friends and family have now signed up to donate after seeing what Harley has been through, and also joined the NHS Organ Donor Register."

Jon Latham, Assistant Director of Blood Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

“There are people desperately in need of a blood transfusion over the Easter period, so it’s vital that those people who have appointments keep them or let us know in good time so we can offer them up to someone else.

“The recent bad weather hit our blood stocks and we now need to make up that shortfall. We can only do this with the help of our generous donors who come out in all weathers to help keep the blood flowing.

“New donors are always needed and you could help those like Harley who need blood as part of ongoing cancer treatment as well as those who need blood during emergency surgery or childbirth. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.”

There are 23 dedicated blood donor centres in England. Donor centres are bright and modern venues with free Wifi, with longer opening hours than community venues and there are still appointments available in most of them, with many putting on extra sessions throughout March.

  • Make and keep your appointment by calling the Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk
  • It is also easy to book through mobile apps for Windows, Android and Apple devices. To download the app, search 'NHSGiveBlood' in the app store.
  • You can donate platelets at your nearest donor centre. If you already give blood, ask about platelet donation at your next appointment.

Ends

  • For additional information please contact the NHSBT Press Office on 01923 367600 or email pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk
  • For urgent out of hours enquiries please call 0117 969 2444

Notes to editors

  • NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • We are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells.
  • Our work would not be possible without our donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others.
  • To find out more visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
  • Follow us on social media
  • Blood donors can search for sessions, book appointments, change/cancel their appointments and change their contact details in real time at blood.co.uk
  • There are apps available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices which enable donors to search for sessions based on their location and book and manage appointments.
  • Our donor line - 0300 123 23 23 - is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with all calls charged at the standard local rate, even from mobile phones
  • NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.5 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England. It’s important that we collect the right amount of each blood group at the right time to meet patient needs. 
  • There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. Group O is the most common and therefore the most in demand. A regular supply of blood is vital – red cells last 35 days and platelets only 7 days
  • The overall demand for blood is falling by 3-4% per year.  This is due to improvements in clinical practice and is a trend that is being seen around the world. The drop in demand for blood is also thanks to our work with hospitals to ensure blood is used appropriately for patients.
  • We need nearly 200,000 new blood donors each year to replace those who no longer donate for reasons such as ill health, pregnancy or foreign travel and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future
  • Some blood groups, such as O negative (the universal blood group), A negative and B negative are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls. So we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can.  We also need more black African, black Caribbean, mixed race and South Asian people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients
  • Female whole blood donors can give blood every 16 weeks, while male blood donors must wait 12 weeks between donations. Platelets can be donated every 2 weeks.
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