News - winter 2018

Call for London platelet donors

We’re appealing for more than 500 new platelet donors to donate at our Edgware, Tooting and the London West End centres.

Platelets are tiny cells that help the blood to clot. More than half of platelets issued go to patients with blood cancers such as leukaemia, and London hospitals use 77,000 units of platelets each year. We’re particularly keen to attract donors with the blood type A. A-negative platelets can be given safely to any patient. A-positive donors are also needed.

Olga Iturri-Tyler, 22 needed more than 100 units of platelets, red blood cells and plasma after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last year.

Her cancer is now in remission and she has maintenance chemotherapy once a week.

She says, “Donating blood and platelets is amazing – a really beautiful thing to do. I feel so much gratitude to everyone who donates. My family have been really involved in donating and my boyfriend organised a blood donation drive at Tooting Donor Centre.”

One platelet donation can help save or improve the lives of up to three adults or 12 children. Please visit our platelets website if you are interested in becoming a platelet donor.

Chief Executive appointment

NHS Blood and Transplant is pleased to confirm the appointment of Betsy Bassis as its new Chief Executive.

Betsy has been working as the Chief Operating Officer at Defra for the past four years and has managed wide-ranging and complex transformational programmes, including large scale IT programmes. Prior to joining Defra, Betsy spent twelve years at Centrica/British Gas.

Betsy says; “I am delighted to be joining NHS Blood and Transplant - an organisation helping people do something extraordinary by donating blood, organs, stem cells and tissues.

“I am excited to support the NHS in delivering these essential services and look forward to working with colleagues and stakeholders to do so for the benefit of patients, donors and their families.”

Blood squad busts myths to get more young people donating

Over 80 per cent of 18 - 24 year olds admit that they have never donated blood, and one of the reasons is many of them are too scared!

But 600 new donors are needed every day to replace those who can no longer donate, so we have teamed up with ITV2 to create a 'blood squad' to try and help alleviate their fears, and bust some of the myths surrounding blood donation.

Love Island stars Dr Alex George and Laura Anderson have joined the squad to urge more young people to consider becoming blood donors. Currently almost half of donors are over 45.

Results from a poll show the squad will have its work cut out. Researchers asked 1,000 adults about their fears, and amongst 18-24-year-olds, 35 per cent were afraid of giving blood, putting this above a fear of public speaking (33 per cent), heights (28 per cent) and the dentist’s chair (19 per cent). A fear of needles was mentioned by 26 per cent.

Dr Alex says, “From my time in the NHS, I’ve seen first-hand how important blood donation is. It is quick and easy, you will only feel a small scratch.”

Laura adds, “I didn’t think I would be able to donate blood as I have a tattoo, but then discovered that you can give blood four months after an inking or piercing. I was apprehensive to start with, but can confirm there is nothing to be scared of.”

If you’ve signed up as a blood donor but are yet to make your first donation, please make an appointment today by logging in at


Clayton spreads the word

He’s only six but on a mission to tell people about blood donation.

6-year-old Clayton Todd has been inspired to spread the word about blood donation after joining his mum as she gave blood at Plymouth Donor Centre.

Mum, Claire Jones, is a regular blood donor, and she and Clayton were invited on a tour of the centre in the summer, which is where Clayton's passion for blood donation began.

Claire says, "Clayton loved being able to see how it all worked, from the machines to the fridges and freezers where blood gets kept. All the team there were so kind and explained everything to him in such a way that he understood all of it and took it all in."

Following the tour, Clayton decided to take it upon himself to encourage others to consider blood donation. He designed a poster which he sent on to his favourite TV programme, Blue Peter, earning himself a badge in the process!

He has also painted and hidden blood donation themed pebbles around Plymouth, for others to find and hide. Plymouth Pebble Art has 17,000 members on Facebook, who regularly post pictures of the pebbles that are found.

Clayton says,"The more that are found and rehidden for others, the more it may make other people donate."

Claire adds, "Clayton wants to be a policeman when he's older and they help others, so he says donating blood helps too."

Celebrating Black History Month

This October, we celebrated Black History Month with the help of the B Positive choir at the 2018 Army Black and Minority Ethnic Network Annual Conference.

Over 50 new donors were enrolled at the event, and we plan to hold a number of blood donation sessions at the largest garrisons and barracks, specifically aimed at armed forces personnel that have rare blood types.

Members of the armed forces have to provide their blood type upon joining, and so we are able to specifically appeal to those with rarer types.

More donors needed for Leicester’s new donor centre

We’ve opened a new and improved donor centre in Leicester, and are asking the local community to help us in our mission to recruit almost 6,000 new donors in the area by 2020.

We especially hope we can attract more Asian donors: there is a national shortage of black and Asian donors, and Leicester has a high Asian population.

Gaurika Puri, 21, was the first person to donate blood at the new donor centre. Gaurika has B-positive blood, a group more commonly found in Asian people.

She says, “Becoming the first donor at Leicester’s new donor centre has been fantastic. Giving blood is quick and easy and at the end of it you help save someone. Everyone should do it!”

Gaurika could be helping patients like Devesh Thakkar, 36, from Leicester, who has beta thalassemia major. Devesh has survived thanks to receiving over 2000 units of blood.

He says, “I’m with patients every day in Leicester who rely on blood transfusions to stay alive. The impact blood donors have on people’s lives is remarkable. I personally wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for amazing blood donors. You have kept me alive and I am forever grateful and thankful to you.”

Karen Ellis, Leicester Donor Centre manager says, “We are very excited to be opening the new centre as it enables us to give our donors a better experience, and also collect more life-saving blood and platelet donations.

“Leicester is a vibrant, growing city with large populations of students, black, Asian and young people, which makes it a great place to recruit the donors of the future.”