Changes to help bring in Ro
Just two per cent of current donors have the Ro subtype, but it’s a very important type just the same.
That’s because hospitals have been requesting more and more units of Ro blood: demand rose by 75 per cent between 2014 and 2016.
Why the high demand? As the ethnic population in the country rises, so does the incidence of inherited blood conditions such as sickle cell, which disproportionately affects those with black heritage. Ro blood is vital in treating these patients because they rely on regular, ongoing transfusions to stay well.
For a single transfusion, patients can be given blood that matches their main type. When they receive more than one transfusion, as with sickle cell, a closer match is needed. Ro subtype blood accounts for a lot of those matches, which is why we are looking for more Ro donors
The good news is that around 40 per cent of donors with black heritage will have this blood group. Many more Ro donors are needed though, and our aim is to make it as easy as possible for new and existing donors from black communities to enrol and/or find appointments.
It makes sense for us to focus on parts of the country where we are most likely to find Ro donors, which means large, ethnically diverse, metropolitan areas, in particular, London. It’s here that most transfusions of Ro blood take place, which is why the capital is central to our efforts to find and supply the right amount of this vital subtype.
By offering more appointments in key areas of London, we hope to make it easier for people from black communities to give blood. So, extra appointments are being offered by our Middlesex and Hither Green teams to serve west and south east London respectively. This year we are also launching a new team in Beckenham to provide more weekend appointments in the south of the city.
We’ve also finished expanding the ever-popular West End Donor Centre to help build on the 45,000 donors that come through its doors every year, whilst Tooting Donor Centre is now open seven days a week. Possible sites for an additional permanent centre in London are being considered too.
Not just London
Elsewhere, opening hours have been extended at centres in Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds – all helping to meet hospital demand for Ro life-saving blood.
We need donors from all backgrounds to donate all across the country, so wherever you live, please keep donating and saving lives.