In just 11 weeks, 101,295 people who have never given blood before registered to donate blood, committing to give up an hour of their time to save and improve lives. They registered during NHS Blood and Transplant’s #BleedForEngland campaign.
The #BleedForEngland campaign aimed to rally people in England to sign up to donate blood to help patients as well as support their own team during the world’s biggest rugby tournament.
World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson, Ben Kay, Jason Leonard and Maggie Alphonsi all backed the campaign by donating blood for the first time. In addition, international players Dan Cole, James Haskell and Tom Croft swapped roles with employees at Boots, London Hilton on Park Lane and Grr’s 2 Prr’s, (a dog grooming company in Leicester), to free them up to donate. Online videos produced for the campaign were viewed millions of times on social media.
Union and League rugby clubs across the country, including Bath, Bristol, Newcastle Falcons, North Bristol RFC, Newbury, Moseley, Preston Grasshoppers, Chipping Sodbury Ladies, Castleford Tigers and Widnes Vikings also supported the campaign, posting messages on social media and holding promotional events at their clubs to encourage their members to become donors.
The England rugby team’s early departure from the Rugby World Cup didn’t halt the campaign’s momentum with people continuing to sign up in their thousands. NHS Blood and Transplant aimed to encourage 100,000 people to register as blood donors between England’s first warm-up game and Saturday’s World Cup Final and by the time the final whistle blew, 101,295 had signed up.
NHS Blood and Transplant is now calling on the #BleedForEngland recruits as well as existing donors to book appointments to donate over the next few weeks to ensure patients get the blood they need in the run up to, and over, the holiday season.
The organisation relies on people across England and North Wales giving up their time to donate to ensure it always has enough stock of the correct blood types to meet patient needs.
Red blood cells have a shelf life of just 35 days and platelets a shelf life of only 7 days. Donations from all blood groups, but especially from O- negative, B- negative and A- negative donors, and from some communities such as Black African and Black Caribbean communities (as they are more likely to have a rare blood group) are needed throughout the winter.
While many people think that blood is used mainly for accidents and emergencies, donated blood is vital for a wide variety of life-saving procedures. This includes helping patients with cancer or undergoing some operations.
Jon Latham, Assistant Director of Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, says: 'We’d like to say a huge thank you to the well-known rugby players and organisations who have given up their time freely to support the campaign. We’re delighted that more than 100,000 new donors have committed to save lives by donating blood.
'We’d now like everybody who signed up to book their first appointment and commit to attending a session to save lives. We appreciate your first donation can be quite nerve-wracking but players like Jonny, Martin, Ben, Jason and Maggie have shown just how easy it is to do.
'If you can’t make your appointment and need to postpone it, please give us at least a few days’ notice as it can be difficult for us to find donors to fill the appointments at the last minute. We plan our sessions in line with the amount of blood patients need.
'Donating is easy to do and will only take about an hour of your time. What better gift could you give to patients who need blood?'
2003 World Cup winner Ben Kay says: 'It’s amazing that more than 100,000 people signed up to #BleedForEngland. This has been one of the best World Cups, and while the England team didn’t do as well on the pitch as many people hoped, people living in England have been fantastic off it by signing up to save lives through blood donation.
'I donated for myself for the first time in August and it really is an easy thing to do. I left with a great feeling knowing that in just one hour I’d saved and improved patient lives. If you haven’t got around to donating yet, I hope you’ll do so in the run up to the festive season and help NHS Blood and Transplant provide the blood that patients need.'
To book an appointment, visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23. You can also use the mobile app available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone. Search ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the app store.
For more information please contact NHS Blood and Transplant press office 01923 367 600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors