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Blood donors texted when their blood goes to hospitals to save lives

In a new initiative, blood donors across England are now being sent a text message when their blood goes to a hospital to save or improve patient lives.

14 June 2016
  • NHS Blood and Transplant needs just under 200,000 new donors to attend to give blood this year
  • New text initiative announced on World Blood Donor Day (14 June)

In a new initiative, blood donors across England are now being sent a text message when their blood goes to a hospital to save or improve patient lives.

NHS Blood and Transplant recently introduced the service for blood donors and is highlighting it on World Blood Donor Day, 14 June, to highlight how blood donors across the country save lives every day.

NHS Blood and Transplant is now sending text messages to donors to tell them that their blood has been dispatched and the name of the hospital where their blood has been sent.

Every time someone gives blood they save or improve the lives of up to three people. It is hoped the new text service will help encourage current donors to continue to give blood by offering them an insight into how their donation is used, as well as inspire others to donate.

Zoe Scarrow, who donated blood a few weeks ago and got a text when it was used, said: “I started donating in 1999 as soon as I was old enough to. It makes me feel good to know I am doing something to help others. I was so pleased to hear when and where my blood had been dispatched to. It makes it more personal to know exactly which hospital received your blood donation. I was so excited and proud that I texted my family to let them know too.”

Donors do not need to register for this new service – all donors who provide their mobile phone number as a contact will automatically receive the notifications when their donation is issued.

The theme for World Blood Donor Day 2016 is ‘Blood connects us all’, and the day highlights that the safe transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives across the globe every year. The World Health Organisation, behind this year’s global awareness day, has launched a series of videos showing the power of blood donation: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-blood-donor-day/2016/videos/en/

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “World Blood Donor Day focuses on how blood donations help save and improve many lives, and that around the world it is blood that connects us all.

“We are always looking at new ways to encourage donation and we hope that the new texting service will show how vital blood donations are used to help people in need. While donors don’t get to meet the people who have benefited from their blood, our texts to donors will remind them that hospitals, and patients, rely on their donations.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs just under 200,000 new donors to attend a session to give blood this year. They will replace those are no longer able to donate, those who can’t donate temporarily due to travel or other short term restrictions and also help ensure they have the right mix of blood groups to meet future patient needs. 

There is a particular need to attract more younger donors (from 17 years old) and people from South Asian and black communities. People from South Asian and black communities are more likely to have rarer blood types and conditions, such as Thalassaemia or Sickle Cell Disease respectively, which require regular blood transfusions.

People requiring regular blood transfusions need blood from donors with a similar ethnic background to provide the best match and better outcomes in the long term.  Currently, only one percent of people who have given blood in England in the last 12 months come from black communities and only two per cent come from South Asian or mixed race communities.

Mike Stredder continued: “While we need donors across all blood groups to donate, we now need greater numbers of certain blood groups, in particular we need more donations from black and South Asian communities. Some rarer groups, such as Ro, O negative (the universal blood group), A negative and B negative are more vulnerable to shortfalls. So we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can, and now they’ll be told when their donation has gone to a hospital to help patients.”

In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.

To find out more or book an appointment visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

Ends

  • For additional information please contact Jan Leslie in the NHS Blood and Transplant press office on 01923 367600 or via pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk
  • For out of hours enquiries please call: 0117 969 2444

Notes to editors

  • World Blood Donor Day takes place each year around the world on 14 June and is one of the World Health Organization’s official global public health campaigns.
  • This year’s National Blood Week will take place 15-22 August
  • The introduction of text alerts to donors when their blood donation has been dispatched to a hospital by NHSBT follows successful similar schemes in Sweden and Australia.
  • NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • We are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells.
  • Our work would not be possible without our donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others.
  • To find out more visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
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  • Blood donors can search for sessions, book appointments, change/cancel their appointments and change their contact details in real time at www.blood.co.uk
  • There are apps available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices which enable donors to search for sessions based on their location and book and manage appointments.
  • Our donor line - 0300 123 23 23 -is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with all calls charged at the standard local rate, even from mobile phones
  • NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.6 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England. It’s important that we collect the right amount of each blood group at the right time to meet patient needs. 
  • There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. Group O is the most common and therefore the most in demand. A regular supply of blood is vital – red cells last 35 days and platelets only 7days
  • The overall demand for blood is falling by 3-4% per year.  This is due to improvements in clinical practice and is a trend that is being seen around the world. The drop in demand for blood is also thanks to our work with hospitals to ensure blood is used appropriately for patients.
  • We need just under 200,000 new blood donors to attend each year to replace those who no longer donate for reasons such as ill health, pregnancy or foreign travel and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future
  • Some blood groups, such as O negative (the universal blood group), A negative and B negative are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls. So we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can.  We also need more black African, black Caribbean, mixed race and South Asian people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients
  • Female whole blood donors can give blood every 16 weeks, while male blood donors must wait 12 weeks between donations. Platelets can be donated every 2 weeks.
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