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News: Volunteers Needed from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities to Join the Greatest Team in the world and give blood

19 June 2014

Black, African and Caribbean people make up just 0.6% of active blood donors* despite representing 4.4% of England s population*, and Asians make up just 2.1% of active blood donors* despite representing 6% of England s population*, according to the latest figures released by NHS Blood and Transplant.

The figures have been released by NHS Blood and Transplant to coincide with the start of National Blood Week (9-15 June) to encourage more people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to donate blood and save lives.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs donors from all communities and ethnic backgrounds to donate so it can continue to meet the needs of all patients in England and North Wales now and in the years to come. Donations are vital to ensuring patients always get the treatment they need and some blood groups such as B Rh positive are more prevalent among black and Asian donors.

Jon Latham, Assistant Director of Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant said: 'Blood donors are amazing - every time they give up some of their free time and donate, they save lives. We believe they belong to the Greatest Team in the World! While people from all communities and backgrounds do give blood, only 4% of our blood donors who have donated blood in the last two years are from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities. This is compared to Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities representing around 14% of the population. We want to try and redress this balance.

'This National Blood Week we're encouraging people from all communities who haven t donated before to join our team. Each year we need around 200,000 new donors to replace those who can no longer donate because of ill health, foreign travel, pregnancy or other reasons. If you've not donated before, why don't you come and join us?

Balbinder Kaur, who suffers from Thalassaemia, knows exactly how important blood donors are and is supporting the Greatest Team in the World campaign. She needs blood transfusions once every four weeks to keep her alive. Balbinder said: 'People like me need blood to live. It feels like receiving a gold medal. I have more energy, I feel better, it gives me haemoglobin and it keeps me alive. I appreciate everyone who donates blood to save my life.'

NHS Blood and Transplant's call for people to get off the bench and become a blood donor comes at an important time. Stocks usually fall at this time of year, and it s particularly important that O Rh Negative and B Rh Negative blood donors and platelet donors continue donating.

Jon Latham continued: 'We plan our blood donation sessions so we collect the right amount of blood at the right time to meet the needs of patients and we keep a very close eye on our blood stocks. The number of people donating blood often falls during the summer and this year's Football World Cup may cause even more of a distraction. So we're reminding donors who have an appointment during June and July to keep it and encouraging those who haven't donated before to register, find a local session, book an appointment and start saving lives.

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.

For more information or to book an appointment visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

Ends

* Active blood donor refers to people who have donated blood in the last two years and the percentage of England's population is based on figures from the 2011 census.

  • For additional information please contact the NHS Blood and Transplant press office by calling 01923 367600.
  • For urgent, out-of-hours enquiries please call 0117 969 2444.

Notes to editors

  • NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • Donors can search for sessions, change their contact details, book appointments and change/cancel their appointments in real time on www.blood.co.uk
  • There are apps available for Android and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices which enable donors to search for their nearest blood donation session.
  • NHSBT's 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.
  • NHSBT collects 1.8 million units of blood each year from over 23,000 blood donation sessions in more than 3,000 venues Only four per cent of the eligible population are active blood donors A unit of blood is measured as 470mls (or just under a pint) 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.
  • 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.