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Let's make this Black History Month another record for blood donor sign-ups

More than 1,500 black people signed up as new donors last Black History Month following an NHS Blood and Transplant appeal.

21 October 2019

Black people are being urged to save lives this Black History Month and help make it another record October for blood donor registrations from the black community.

More than 1,500 black people signed up as new donors last Black History Month following an NHS Blood and Transplant appeal. This was the highest monthly figure in 2018 and 50 percent more than the previous month (1).

But the urgent shortage of black donors remains. Around 40,000 more are needed to help people with sickle cell, a blood disorder more common in black people.

Many sickle cell patients need blood transfusions to manage the serious and potentially life-threatening complications. People from the same ethnic background are more likely to have matching blood.

But the serious shortage of black donors makes it harder to find the best matched blood for these patients, putting them at greater risk of potentially life-threatening transfusion reactions.

Ronald Clarke, 59, from Preston, has been giving blood for more than 20 years. He completed his 69th donation this month.

Ronald donating bloodThe former youth worker said: “As a black geezer I’ve discovered the importance of matching as a donor to people from similar backgrounds.

 “I used to do a lot of work with young black people and it’s great knowing I can still do something important for my community through blood donation. It’s very poignant for me because it gives me the chance to give something back.”

Ronald, who sings in the B Positive Choir to promote blood donation, added: “Giving blood is such a simple act. You walk into a centre, donate, have a cup of tea and a biscuit and get on with your day.”

The number of black donors has risen by 29 percent over the last three years in response to urgent appeals. There are now more than 13,000 active donors (2) but the overall shortage remains.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: “Blood donation is an act of selfless generosity.

“I am amazed by how the black community has answered the call for donors, but we still urgently need more.

“Let’s make this Black History Month another record month for donor registrations. This is a real chance to save lives and give an incredible gift to those in need.”

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “More black people than ever are now donating blood. But we urgently need to recruit more donors from the black community to help the rising numbers of black patients who need closely matched blood.

“We are asking people with black heritage to make this Black History Month the time you commit to saving lives in your community. Please register as a blood donor and book an appointment to donate.

“We have 23 permanent donor centres in major cities such as London, Birmingham, and Manchester, and they are a great place to make your first donation. Blood donation is quick, safe and easy.”

About sickle cell disease

Sickle cell is a serious genetic disease that affects the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.

The patient’s blood cells form into a sickle or crescent shape and they get stuck in blood vessels. Some patients experience acute episodes of extreme pain.

Severe sickle cell disease can cause loss of sight, organ failure and stroke, and the complications can be fatal.

Story notes

1) New black donor registrations for 2018:

  • January: 1,328
  • February: 1,004
  • March: 1,472
  • April: 940
  • May: 997
  • June: 1,451
  • July: 1,127
  • August: 1,241
  • September: 1,033
  • October: 1,529
  • November: 1,020
  • December: 941

2) There were 13,394 active black and mixed black donors at 30 September 2019. Active blood donor refers to people who have donated blood in the last year.