ITV presenter gives blood for first time as NHS calls for more black donors amid shortage

ITV News Central presenter Pablo Taylor on giving blood for the first time and why he felt it was so important

My own experience of giving blood was so easy and straightforward that after it was all over, I found myself wondering why I’d waited so long to do it.

The whole process was over in under an hour and the thing I was most worried about, the pain, was minimal. In fact, after the insertion of the needle (which wasn’t any worse than a Covid jab) I couldn’t really feel a thing.

On top of that, the staff at the blood donor centre were all really friendly, constantly checking to see how I was doing.

They collected just under a pint of my blood, which I was told could be used to help save up to three lives. A pretty amazing achievement if you ask me.

Why does the NHS need more black donors?

I’ve always wanted to give blood and having seen so many campaigns by the NHS in the last few weeks pushing for more black donors. I felt as if it was a call I couldn’t ignore. 

Sickle cell disease is the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK.

It's a terrible condition which affects red blood cells, causing extreme pain and leading to all sorts of complications.

I knew it was something that was common in black communities but only after watching a video did I appreciate how important I could be in helping treat it.

That’s because ethnically matched blood is a lot less likely to be rejected by people having frequent blood transfusion's, and some blood types, such as the O subtype, are more commonly found in people of African and Caribbean heritage than in people with white heritage.

Recent figures show a record 250 donations are now needed every day to treat sickle cell, up from 150 a day five years ago.

The NHS has responded by considerably upping its appeal for donors. 

Its latest campaign involves actors from the Hollywood franchise, Black Panther, who highlight how ethnically matched blood is especially vital when it comes to treating conditions including sickle cell.

The thing I was most worried about, the pain, was no worse than a covid jab.

If you want to give blood, but haven't yet, I really would encourage you to go for it.

The NHS is massively short of donors so getting an available slot shouldn’t be a problem.

On top of that, you’ll be left with a really rewarding feeling that you've potentially saved someone’s life - which makes the whole experience more than worth it.