As the country limbers up for the 2012 Olympics, we have been busy planning how to keep blood supplies running smoothly during the Games
Whilst the country looks forward to next summer's Olympic Games in London, we have been busy thinking about how to keep blood supplies running smoothly. Our teams across the country have been planning for over a year, looking at how other countries, such as Australia which hosted the 2000 Games in Sydney, managed their blood supplies and built stocks before all the events began.
The London Olympic activities are spread over seven weeks: the athletes start arriving on July 14th and the official opening ceremony takes place on July 27th. There will be a fortnight break between the main Games and the Paralympics, which close on September 9th.
About half a million visitors are expected to come to the Olympic Park every day, with visitor numbers in the London area also swelling. We're expecting local transport links to be interrupted by the Games so will prepare to move some blood donation sessions to alternative venues for donors who are affected. As part of our planning, we're also looking at how transport disruption may affect the delivery of donated blood to our centres for processing and testing. We'll also be making sure we can keep hospitals in the areas affected by the Games supplied with all the blood products they need.
Of course some venues can't be moved, such as our flagship West End donor centre in London and other centres inside the capital, but we hope our donors will still be able to attend. We're planning on providing more opportunities to donate in the outer London and Essex areas, avoiding inner London where possible, and we are reviewing session times to avoid clashes with the main events.
Outside of London there are Olympic events taking place across Berkshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Dorset, as well as at venues in the north of England.
Nearer the time we will be asking all our blood donors to make sure they keep their appointments during the seven weeks of the Games. Planning your donation around the events you particularly want to watch will help us as well as all the patients who rely on blood products for their treatment. Remember too that summer is a time when stocks tend to fall, so it's even more important that you make a date to donate.
"Our regular donors are the backbone of the service and we hope to encourage everyone to keep to their appointments before, during and after the Olympics"
Jon Latham from marketing and contact services says, "our regular donors are the backbone of our service and we hope to encourage everyone to keep to their appointments before, during, and after the Olympics. Leading up to the Games, we'll be promoting the need for people to come forward so that we can have good blood stocks in place before they begin.
"We'll also be running a radio and social media campaign to raise awareness of the need for blood during this time, so if you haven't already visited our blood donation Facebook page, please "like" us at www.facebook.com/NHSblood or follow us on Twitter at @GiveBloodNHS to stay in touch with developments."
Olympic hopeful Franki Jus-Burke from Putney says she gave her first blood donation this summer after seeing our appeal for young people to come forward to donate during National Blood Week.
"When I saw the news about the drop in young donors I felt compelled to donate. I made an appointment that day and gave blood the same week. It didn't hurt at all and was over very quickly. I've even managed to convince a few of my friends to do the same and I recently gave my second donation at the West End donor centre in London."
25-year-old Franki started rowing at the age of 13 after a school assembly by Newark Rowing Club persuaded her to try the sport. Three years later she made the Great Britain Junior Squad and from then on regularly represented Great Britain at international level.
In 2004 she entered her first Junior World Championships and the following year won a bronze medal. That same year she also won the British Championships in the Quadruple Scull and Single, and came second at Henley Women's Regatta.
Over the next few years Franki achieved further medals including silver at the World Championships in 2006. Sadly in 2008, as a result of a chronic back injury, she took premature retirement and early the following year started working at the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust. Here Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly put Franki in touch with her physiotherapist. With her diagnosis and help, Franki overcame the injury and with the support of Dame Kelly she decided to return to rowing and fulfil her potential of becoming an Olympic athlete.
In 2010, Franki enjoyed more victories on the water, but in March this year suffered a further setback with a hip injury and was forced to pull out of Olympic trials. She is continuing with her rehabilitation programme until she gets the all clear to get back in the boat and still has her sights firmly set on being part of the GB team in 2012.