More than 4,000 new blood donors are needed in Cambridgeshire

The NHS Blood and Transplant are seeking donations in Cambridge PICTURE: NHS

The NHS Blood and Transplant are seeking donations in Cambridge PICTURE: NHS - Credit: NHS

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) are urging people in Cambridgeshire to find out their blood type and give blood after new targets reveal 4,003 new donors are needed in the area to save lives over the next year.

For National Blood week, a five-year blood strategy has been launched to increase donors as nationally, one million more blood donors are needed over the next five years to ensure patients receive the right blood type to save and improve lives.

While most people are familiar with the main blood types, many sub-types can provide a better match to improve treatment.

There is a particular urgency for more donors of Black African and Black Caribbean ethnicity to treat people with sickle cell.

Sickle cell is the fastest growing genetic blood disorder in the UK and mostly affects people of Black heritage.

It requires regular transfusions, most often with the specific blood subtype Ro.

Fifty-five per cent of Black blood donors have the Ro subtype compared to 2.4% of donors from other ethnicities.

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Stephen Cornes, Director of Blood Supply at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Currently, we can only meet around half of the demand for Ro blood through our existing donor base and demand for this rare blood type is rising.

This means many sickle cell patients often receive less well-matched blood, which, while clinically suitable, can pose a longer-term risk to patients who receive regular transfusions.

"We urgently need new Black African and Black Caribbean donors to come forward and donate blood.

“In addition to the rarest blood types, we also need 1 million new donors over the next five years of all blood types. As the NHS treats more patients, we need to grow the total number of donors too.

“We carefully manage stocks to ensure we do not waste any precious blood. If you cannot get an appointment immediately, it is because we have enough of your blood type right now. Please book for a later date or respond when we contact you.”

Blood donation generally takes up to an hour, and those participating will be doing something amazing.

Appointments to donate blood are arranged based on a donor’s blood type to meet future patient needs. Knowing your type is an essential part of being a next-generation donor.

A mass public campaign is also being held for National Blood Week and June to identify people with the most needed blood types.

NHSBT Advocate and star of Channel 4’s A Place in The Sun Scarlette Douglas's brother suffered a life-threatening stab wound in his chest when he disturbed a burglar and received 48 units of blood over more than six hours.

Scarlette, who has Ro blood herself, said: “Blood donors saved my brother’s life, but blood will only be there in the future if young people of every heritage sign up as the next generation of donors.

“Please make an appointment or get along to a blood type testing event – your blood will be a match for someone who needs it, and you will save lives.”

Dr Bola Owolabi, Director – Health Inequalities at NHS England, said: “A shortage of blood donation from people of a Black heritage often means that some patients don’t receive the best blood-type match and are therefore at risk of serious complications. 

“Tackling healthcare inequalities is one of the NHS’ top priorities, and increasing the number of Black African and Black Caribbean blood donors is crucial in improving outcomes for sickle cell patients especially. 

 “I would urge anyone who is able to give blood to come forward as soon as possible – you are vital in saving the lives of your neighbours, friends and communities who are battling this disease.” 

To attend a What’s Your Blood Type event, book an appointment by visiting blood.co.uk, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app or calling 0300 123 23 23.

Existing donors who have not donated in a while are also encouraged to book another appointment.