Missing Type campaign inspires 24,000 new blood donors

11 October 2016

The Missing Type campaign to highlight the need for more new donors has inspired 24,000 people across England to sign up to give blood.

NHS Blood and Transplant saw double the number of people register to become new donors in England during the two-week campaign compared to the previous fortnight – with almost 8,000 people in the first three days alone.1

Jon Latham, NHS Blood and Transplant’s Assistant Director for Donor Services and Marketing, said: “We’re so grateful to everybody that has come forward to become a new blood donor and to all the brands, organisations and people who showed their support and helped us raise awareness. The response to Missing Type was once again fantastic.

“Blood donation is an amazing gift – every donation given can help save or transform up to three lives. New blood donors are vital for ensuring we have the right mix of blood groups to meet patient need. We hope everyone who was inspired to register will now go on to book an appointment and become a regular donor - and that companies who backed the campaign will continue to help us promote blood donation.”

The campaign - first held by NHS Blood and Transplant in England and North Wales in 2015 - this year brought together 25 blood services across 21 countries in a global drive for donors and saw huge support with from over a thousand brands and organisations as well as individuals. #MissingType saw 50,543 mentions on Twitter and it trended in 10 countries and dozens of cities across the world. During the two-week campaign 46,000 people across nine participating countries were inspired to come forward to donate.2

Blood transfusions save lives and transform the health of millions of people across the world.

In a survey for the Missing Type campaign, participating blood services reported an almost 30% international drop in people becoming blood donors compared to a decade ago. In England, the number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time decreased by 24.4% in 2015 compared to 2005. 3

In particular NHS Blood and Transplant needs more O negative and A negative donors (both blood groups which can be vulnerable to shortfall), more young blood donors and more black and South Asian donors.

Throughout the Missing Type campaign As, Bs and Os - the letters of the main blood groups – disappeared in everyday and iconic locations around the globe including America, Australia, Japan and Ireland. In England, major supporters include Microsoft, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, Boots, Manchester City, Lloyds Bank and Royal Mail.

In 2015, hospitals in England were provided with 1.6 million units of blood provided thanks to around 900,000 donors – around 154,000 gave blood for the first time.

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Up to 2.7 million people in England were helped last year thanks to the generosity of our donors. For patients receiving treatment for cancer, blood disorders, after accidents or during surgery, or new mums who lost blood in childbirth, blood is an absolutely essential.

“Across the world clinical advances mean overall blood use in hospitals is declining, but we still need more people to start giving blood to replace those who can no longer donate and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future.

“Don’t worry if you’ve never given blood before and don’t know what blood group you are – you find out shortly after your first donation. What’s important is that you register as a donor and book your first appointment to donate.”

Donating blood should take no more than an hour from appointment time and each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

To sign up as a new donor, visit: www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23

1 During the period 16.08.16 and 29.08.16 23,864 people in England registered as a new blood donor. During the period 01/08/2016 and 14/08/2016 12,007 people in England registered as new donors.

2 Nine countries have provided results figures for new donor registrations and new donor attends during the campaign week (16th – 21st August): Australia, Belgium
South Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, America, Canada

3 In a survey for Missing Type in April 2016, participating blood services reported the number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time was 1,830,003 in 2005 and 1,324,980 in 2015 – a drop of 27.6% in 2015 compared to 2005. Not all services were able to provide full responses.


  • For additional information please contact 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

  • 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
  • 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 7 days
  • 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 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.