NHS Blood and Transplant and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) have joined forces to encourage more people in the local area to become blood and organ donors.
This is the first time that NHS Blood and Transplant, which collects donated blood in England and North Wales and manages the UK s organ donation system, has entered into a potentially life-saving partnership with an emergency service.
The aim of the partnership, which was launched officially on Tuesday 27 May 2014 at ESFRS Head Quarters, is to promote blood and organ donation in the East Sussex and Brighton and Hove area. ESFRS currently promotes public health messages through its networks, community fire stations and its outreach programme, and blood and organ donation will be incorporated into this existing programme.
In addition to this, NHS Blood and Transplant will be training ESFRS volunteers so they can become blood and organ donation ambassadors.
It is hoped that the initiative will provide a significant increase in the number of local residents who are on the NHS Organ Donor Register and who give blood. The partnership will initially run for three years.
David Kemp, inclusion and Partnership Manager, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: 'Although the numbers of people injured in fires continues to reduce, burn injuries require significant quantities of blood products so it makes sense for us to collaborate with NHS Blood and Transplant to encourage donation. We are delighted to be working with NHS Blood and Transplant and will be promoting blood and organ donation at all of our public events.'
Zeeshan Asghar, Partnerships Development Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant said: 'We are really looking forward to working with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to promote blood and organ donation to people who live in the region. NHS Blood and Transplant and the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service share a common goal which is to save lives, so working together is a natural fit. I hope that our combined passion for saving lives will result in more people in the area signing up.'
Ali Carter, an Eastbourne resident who donated her son s organs in 2000 welcomes the partnership and gave a speech at the event. Ali said: 'My reason for speaking publicly of our family's loss is simple. I lost my only son, Lee, following a road traffic accident in 2000 and did not want his life or his death to be a waste. Lee's liver was donated to a gentleman, he continues to enjoy a happy, healthy life, this man would not have been alive today had it not been for Lee's amazing gift, this brings our family great comfort.
Three people die in the UK every day waiting for a transplant, in this day and age it is a shocking statistic, so please have that conversation with family and loved ones today and make them aware of your wish to donate.'
Jean Woodward, a keen blood donor from Seaford, knows how important blood donation is as several family members have needed transfusions. Jean said: 'I have been a blood donor for years and my first donation was at work. Now my husband and I both donate and we have encouraged close friends to start donating too. In 1991, my lovely daughter needed blood during three different operations and my daughter in law needed blood following the birth of our first grandchild. As a family we are passionate about blood donation and we always like to think that our account is in credit. You never know what is around the corner and it could be you or your loved ones that need blood.'
Only 3.6 per cent of the county's population currently give blood, just behind the national average of 4 per cent*. There are currently 101 people in need of a transplant in East Sussex**.
Notes to editors