Urgent call for black blood donors in the North West to treat sickle cell disease as demand doubles

The NHS say 750 new black blood donors are needed in the North West this year, with the biggest demand in Manchester where most patients are treated. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Demand for blood to treat sickle cell in the North West has more than doubled prompting an urgent call from the NHS for more donors of black heritage to come forward.

Nearly 43,000 donations are now needed in the region every year to treat the disorder, which is the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK.

Sickle cell is more prevalent in people of black heritage, and ethnically matched blood provides the best treatment, meaning more black donors are needed to meet the increasing demand.

Durelle Kelly from Manchester receives blood transfusions for the condition at the Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital, the treatment means that she can spend more time with his nearly two-year-old daughter.

The 31-year-old said: “Go for it, I know some people are scared to donate but that overcoming that fear could save someone’s life, so go for it.

“Some of my friends have tried to give blood but their iron has been low. But the main thing for me is that they made an appointment and they tried.

"So please, do go along and try and give blood. You can’t say you haven’t tried then - and you’d really be helping someone.”

Around 750 new black blood donors are now needed in the North West this year. Credit: ITV

The NHS say 750 new black blood donors are needed in the North West in 2022 alone, with the biggest demand in Manchester where most patients are treated.

A new campaign is now being launched to coincide with Black History Month urging for new donors to come forward and help others in the community who suffer with the condition.

The disorder causes red blood cells to form into sickle or crescent shapes, leading them to become stuck in blood vessels, causing the sufferer agonising episodes and serious or even fatal long term complications including organ damage and strokes.

Many patients need regular blood transfusions to stay alive.

The rising demand is being caused by increasing patient numbers, people living for longer and a greater use of complete blood transfusions, known as red cell exchanges, to treat the condition.

NHS Blood and Transplant can currently only provide matched blood for just over half of the hospital requests, leaving other patients need to be treated with O Negative, the universal blood type.

Being treated with O Negative rather than the correct blood type is clinically safe but could mean that in the long term patients are more likely to develop antibodies. This puts them at risk of complications and makes it even harder to find blood they can receive.

Dr Rekha Anand, consultant haematologist, who works with donors from Asian and Black communities said:Matched blood is vital for sickle cell patients to reduce the risk of serious complications. People from the same ethnic background are more likely to have matching blood.

“There is a rise in Black people donating blood, but we urgently need more black people in the North West to become regular donors. Giving blood is easy, quick and safe - and you will save and improve lives.”

How do I become a blood donor?

You can register to give blood via the NHS website and completing a basic form.

If you are eligible, you can register an appointment. When you arrive, the actual donation process is very quick - taking only around 8-10 minutes.

Including recovery, an appointment to give blood will take just over an hour.

A drink and a snack will be provided afterwards.

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