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NHS70: celebrating 70 years

70 years of the NHS - commemorative banner

On Thursday 5 July 2018, the NHS turned 70 years old

To mark the occasion, we're taking a look back at the history of donation, transfusion and transplantation. To read about pioneering discoveries and world firsts, and watch vintage donor recruitment films;

Visit our history of donation, transfusion and donation page

NHS 70 logo

NHS Blood and Transplant is asking everyone to give us the best birthday present ever by doing something amazing today. With just a few clicks you can save lives by registering to give blood and join the organ donor register.

Every day thousands of people’s lives are saved or improved thanks to the generosity of our donors. But, sadly, there are still lots of patients we can’t treat because we don’t have enough supplies. There’s an urgent need for donations. Please help, if you can. Save a life today.

70 years on: One of the first NHS patients to receive an exchange blood transfusion as a baby expresses her gratitude


Maggie Hackney todayMaggie Hackney was one of the first babies to receive an exchange blood transfusion and survive. Shortly after her birth in 1948 she needed blood to save her life. Nearly 70 years on Maggie is very grateful to the donors and medics who enabled her to reach this milestone.

She says: “The midwife thankfully identified I was in big trouble! I needed an exchange blood transfusion, something that was still at the experimental stage of development.  Coincidentally the National Blood Transfusion Service (as it was known then) was also a service that had just been created and was also crucial to my survival.

Maggie Hackney at the Guildhall in London in 1958“In 1958 I was invited to the Guildhall in London to celebrate the first blood donors that had donated 50 pints of blood. ( now measured in units ) The then Lord Mayer of London was Sir Dennis Truscott was to be the VIP and of course this was his official venue. I was invited as the first successful exchange recipient and guest of honour.

“Through the years I have often thought about how fortunate I was to be born when I was and I want to say thank you to all those who helped save my life. “

NHS Blood and Transplant staff celebrate 70 years of the NHS with a Big 7Tea bake sale

Staff at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)'s Filton centre recently showed off their baking skills by holding an NHS Big7 Tea event in celebration of 70 years of the NHS, with all proceeds going to blood cancer research charity Bloodwise.

NHSBT Filton Head of Centre Daryl Hall and Estates and Facilities Assistant Director Ian Freestone with star bakers Diane Bent (Testing) and Jessica Cousins (Manufacturing)
NHSBT Filton Head of Centre Daryl Hall and Estates and Facilities Assistant Director Ian Freestone with star bakers Diane Bent (Testing) and Jessica Cousins (Manufacturing)
A prize-winning cake with a blood bag theme
A prize-winning cake with a blood bag theme
A 'Billy Blood Drop' cake commemorating 70 years of the NHS
A 'Billy Blood Drop' cake commemorating 70 years of the NHS
Prize-winning organ donation-themed cupcakes
Prize-winning organ donation-themed cupcakes
The Filton NHSBT Big 7Tea spread
The Filton NHSBT Big 7Tea spread

Staff at our donation centres up and down the country also contributed to the celebrations and showed off their skills. 

This stunning NHS 70 cake was made by Alison Follows from our Leicester Donor Centre
This stunning NHS 70 cake was made by Alison Follows from our Leicester Donor Centre
The Stoke Blood Donation team join in the celebrations
The Stoke Blood Donation team
The spread at our Liverpool Donor Centre
The spread at our Liverpool Donor Centre
Blood Donation nurses at our Nottingham Donor Centre
Blood Donation nurses at our Nottingham Donor Centre

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Follow us on our social media channels where we will be recognising and thanking the extraordinary NHS people whose vital work guides, supports and cares for us all every day. #NHS70