Innovative technology used to attract new donors

Members of the public encouraged to give virtual blood donation to see the life-saving transformation of patients before their eyes.

NHS Blood and Transplant is using an augmented reality smartphone app to show how blood can save and improve lives. The app connects to a large advertising screen featuring an empty blood bag and ill patient. The app detects a sticker on the recipient’s skin, which then overlays a plaster, needle and tube on their arm.

As the participant watches they see ‘blood’ flowing down the tube from their arm and up onto the screen in front of them. As the blood bag fills up, the virtual donor can watch as the sick patient gradually returns to health before their eyes. 

The campaign features three people whose lives have been saved by blood donation.

Natasha required 44 units of blood and blood products when she suffered massive blood loss during the birth of her youngest son, Oliver, on Christmas Day 2015. Read Natasha's story here.

Amit, from Wembley, was diagnosed with Beta Thalassaemia Major at 18 months old, and requires blood transfusions every three weeks, with each transfusion taking six hours. Read Amit's story here.

Shalona, from Hackney, had her first blood transfusion in July 2009 when she was 38 weeks pregnant with her first child and hospitalised with a sickle cell crisis. Read Shalona's story here.

A make up artist worked closely with the trio to recreate how they looked when they were sick and in need of a transfusion. Personal photographs and feedback were used to ensure that the images in the campaign are as accurate and true to life as they can be.

Ian Trenholm, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “With just under 200,000 new donors needed every year, we need to find ways to show people the importance of blood donation. We hope that by getting people to give a virtual donation, we can get them thinking and explain what it takes to become a real life donor. The virtual experience gives an insight into the personal reward and satisfaction our loyal donors feel when they give blood and know they are saving lives. Each unit of blood donated can help save or improve the lives of up to three people.”


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