"Rouse up thy youthful blood, be valiant and live." Richard II, Act 1 Scene 3
BLOODY scenes aplenty feature in Shakespeare’s works.
But three Royal Shakespeare Company actors have stepped from the stage and into the donation chair to give blood for real.
Paapa Essiedu, Nia Gwynne and James Corrigan were helping to save lives and raise awareness of the need for more new young and black donors.
Nia’s baby son received lifesaving blood transfusions after he was born last year.
Nia, who plays Goneril in King Lear said: “Arthur was born three months premature and needed several blood transfusions during his long stay in hospital. Quite simply, people giving blood saved his life, more than once.”
In England every minute, thanks to blood donors, three units of blood are issued to hospitals to treat patients.
For patients receiving treatment for cancer, blood disorders, after accidents or during surgery, or new mums who lose blood in childbirth, blood is an absolutely essential part of healthcare.
But NHS Blood and Transplant –the service which collects, tests and processes blood for hospitals across England – says that while hospitals have the blood needed to treat patients there is a need for more new donors.
In particular there is a need for more young blood donors and more black and South Asian donors.
Mike Stredder, NHS Blood and Transplant Director of Blood Donation said: “We are really grateful to Paapa, Nia and James and to the RSC for helping raise awareness of blood donation. Blood donation is an amazing gift and every donation can save or transform up to three lives.
“Thanks to the generosity of our current donors, hospitals have the blood needed to treat patients and there is not a crisis in blood stocks. Despite overall blood use in hospitals declining, we need more young donors to safeguard blood donation for future generations. And it’s vital the blood donor community reflects the diversity of the population because blood types vary across communities and patients need well-matched blood.”
NHS Blood and Transplant also particularly needs new A negative and O negative donors, and people willing to become dedicated platelet donors.
In England the number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time dropped 24.4% in 2015 compared to 2005.
Only 1 per cent of people who donated blood in the last year were from black communities. Donors from these communities are more likely to have rare blood types which can help treat conditions such as Sickle Cell Disease, which may require regular blood transfusions. For people with these conditions, blood from donors of the same ethnic background can provide the best chance of a match and therefore the best clinical outcome.
October is also Black History Month, which is being supported by both NHS Blood and Transplant and RSC.
Paapa, who recently played Hamlet and is now Edmund in King Lear, said: “Giving blood is a crucially important way for all of us to support our NHS – and so easy to do!”
James, who plays Palamon in The Two Noble Kinsmen said: ”A friend of mine works for the NHS and I asked them why we should give blood. They said one donation can help change or save up to three lives. That’s reason enough for me.”
Notes to editors