A campaign's been launched to encourage more people in the East of England to give blood. National Blood Week is running from 19-25 June. 115,649 people gave blood last year from our region at least once. But NHS Blood and Transplant says they need the right mix of blood groups to meet future patient needs and there's a particular need for more black donors. About 10,000 black people donated blood last year but 40,000 new black donors are needed to help save lives of patients with sickle cell disease.
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 1% of current blood donors are black.
Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, says: "Every day,blood donors from the East of England make a difference; saving people whose lives depend on blood. Whether it is patients receiving treatment for cancer,blood disorders, after accidents, surgery or during childbirth. It is vital our blood donors, reflect the diversity of the population because blood types vary across communities. Those who rely on regular transfusions, need blood which is more closely matched than by group alone, and this will often come from donors of the same ethnicity. Don't worry if you've never given blood before and don't know what blood group you are - you find out shortly after your first donation.What's important is that you register as a donor and book your first appointment to donate. By saying 'I'm there', you can save the life of someone else, while going about yours."