London Blood Donor Centre is now the busiest in Europe
London’s West End Blood Donor Centre can collect 60,000 units of blood a year.
New figures reveal London's newly reopened West End Blood Donor Centre has capacity to collect more blood than anywhere else in Europe.
The centre can now collect 60,000 units of blood per year, ahead of the busiest centres at Europe's two largest blood services, Germany and France.(1)
From April, the newly refurbished centre, which is open seven days a week, increased capacity from six donation chairs to eight donation chairs, creating an extra 20,000 chances to donate each year.
The refurbishment, which took three months, saw the centre being modernised to make it brighter and more comfortable for donors with free Wi-Fi and plug sockets for people to charge their phones. (2)
Sandra Sowerby, West End Donor Centre Manager, said: "It is fantastic to say we collect the largest amount of blood in Europe. We have lots of patients here in London who require regular blood transfusions, and the extra blood we can now collect will help to improve the daily lives of these people.
"We’re open in evenings and weekends to suit the busy schedules of London donors and this is a fantastic place to make your first donation. We especially need new black blood donors. Giving blood is quick and easy and you will save lives."
NHS Blood and Transplant’s decision to expand the centre was mainly due to an increasing need for black blood donors with rare blood groups, such as Ro.
Ro blood is very important for treating patients with sickle cell disease – it's the fastest growing genetic disorder in the UK and it is more common in black people. Over the past three years, there has been an 80% increase in requests for Ro blood to NHSBT's London blood stock units. (3)
Only around 2% of donors have this rare sub-type. However, around 45% of all potential Ro blood donors in the country live in London.
Shaylah Haider, who has just celebrated her 10th birthday, from Barnet, was born with sickle cell disease – her red blood cells form into a sickle or crescent shape and become stuck in her blood vessels.
She has needed many transfusions to keep her alive and has suffered life threatening complications. The blood vessels in her brain became narrow or blocked and she suffered a series of 'silent' strokes. Her condition was so severe she needed a stem cell transplant – a procedure with significant risks – which was a success and changed her life.
Shaylah is under the care of St Mary's Hospital and has regular blood tests and monitoring. She is the healthiest she has ever been, though she still needs ongoing care for complications from the amount of blood transfusions she received.
Leila Haider, Shaylah's mum said: "Shaylah has spent most birthdays unwell and unable to celebrate, there have been times I wondered if she would reach this milestone, but thanks to the generosity of blood donors we celebrated together and it was the best birthday yet.
"This is the healthiest and the happiest I have seen her. She has always been a tough cookie and will continue to be a fighter. Blood transfusions have saved her life so many times I can’t even count.
"Without blood donors I honestly don’t know if she would be with us today. It may not seem like a big thing when you donate blood but it goes to people who really need it. I can’t thank donors enough.
"I hope the West End Donor Centre can now collect even more blood to help other sickle cell patients across London."
Gayle Franklin, Regional Head of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: "There are more than 7,000 sickle cell patients who live in the capital, and it is important we are collecting the right type of blood to give them.
"We believe the increased capacity now available at the West End Donor Centre is an incredibly positive step to ensure patients continue to receive the best possible matched blood."
Press release notes
(1) NHS Blood and Transplant made enquiries through the European Blood Alliance and the Alliance of Blood Operators. No centres in Europe reported busier donor centres. Europe’s biggest blood donation services are France and Germany. China and Thailand had busier centres.
(3) Sickle cell disease, which is most common in black people, causes blood cells to form into a sickle shape which get stuck in blood vessels, causing extreme pain, life-threatening infections and other complications such as stroke, loss of vision, and organ failure.
Notes to editors
- NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We provide the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK. We also provide donated tissues, stem cells and cord blood. We are an essential part of the NHS, saving and improving lives through public donation.
- It is quick and easy to book an appointment to give blood. Call 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk
- NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.4 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England.
- There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. O negative (the universal blood group) and B negative are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls. So, we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can.
- The overall demand for blood is falling by 3-4% per year due to improvements in clinical practice and our work with hospitals to ensure blood is used appropriately for patients.
- We need 135,000 new blood donors each year to replace those who stop donating and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future .
- We urgently need 40,000 more black donors as they are more likely to have the blood type needed to treat the increasing number of patients suffering from sickle cell disease.
- National Blood Week is from 10-16 June. This year we need new blood donors at our 23 permanent blood donor centres, especially black donors, male donors, and O negative donors. For more info on covering the campaign, contact the NHSBT press office.