NHS70: celebrating 70 years

The National Health Service turned 70 on 5 July 2018.

Aneurin Bevan with NHS nurses: NHS70

NHS70 logo

To mark the occasion, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is taking a look back at the history of donation, transfusion and transplantation.

To read about pioneering discoveries and world firsts, and watch vintage donor recruitment films;


NHS Blood and Transplant is asking everyone to give us the best birthday present ever by doing something amazing today. With just a few clicks you can save lives by registering to give blood and joining the organ donor register.

Every day thousands of people’s lives are saved or improved thanks to the generosity of our donors. But, sadly, there are still lots of patients we can’t treat because we don’t have enough supplies. There’s an urgent need for donations. Please help, if you can. Save a life today.

70 years on: One of the first NHS patients to receive an exchange blood transfusion as a baby expresses her gratitude

Maggie Hackney was one of the first babies to receive an exchange blood transfusion and survive. Shortly after her birth in 1948 she needed blood to save her life.

Maggie Hackney today Nearly 70 years on Maggie is very grateful to the donors and medics who enabled her to reach this milestone.

She says: “The midwife thankfully identified I was in big trouble! I needed an exchange blood transfusion, something that was still at the experimental stage of development.  Coincidentally the National Blood Transfusion Service (as it was known then) was also a service that had just been created and was also crucial to my survival.

Maggie Hackney at the Guildhall in London in 1958“In 1958 I was invited to the Guildhall in London to celebrate the first blood donors that had donated 50 pints of blood. ( now measured in units ) The then Lord Mayer of London was Sir Dennis Truscott was to be the VIP and of course this was his official venue. I was invited as the first successful exchange recipient and guest of honour.

“Through the years I have often thought about how fortunate I was to be born when I was and I want to say thank you to all those who helped save my life. “

Milestones and highlights

This video celebrates some of the key milestones reached since the NHS was first launched in 1948.

You can follow the #NHS70 celebrations at www.england.nhs.uk/nhs70.

Follow us on our social media channels where we will be recognising and thanking the extraordinary NHS people whose vital work guides, supports and cares for us all every day.

Become a blood donor

Sign up

Sign up as an organ donor