Saving lives together

In the last few months the world as we know it has changed; the pandemic has set challenges for all of us and we’ve all had to adjust to a new normal.

But the need for blood has never stopped.

We have been overwhelmed by the loyalty of blood, platelet and plasma donors. Many of you have told us that donating has been a highlight of the lockdown period. For many of you, the trip out of the house to come and donate was the first journey in weeks – and it was spent saving and improving people’s lives.

Convalescent plasma donationWe would like to say a huge thank you for your continued life-saving efforts and offer a very warm welcome to those who donated for the first time.

(Picture: The first convalescent plasma donation)

It’s also important we acknowledge the contribution being made by donors who have recovered from Covid-19 and are now taking part in the convalescent plasma programme, which is helping in the treatment of patients with the disease.

You can find out more about the programme on our convalescent plasma website.

At the frontline

Donors coming to sessions may have noticed important changes. We’ve put extra safety measures in place and donors are now triaged when they arrive to ensure they are well.

Triage screeningIn April, almost 100 staff members from other departments volunteered to help in the triage areas at over 650 sessions.

New deep-cleaning procedures have been implemented in all venues, alongside extra hand sanitisers and PPE. Nurses from other parts of the organisation have been retrained so that they can work at donation sessions.

Many dedicated staff have made huge sacrifices to be able to continue working: one of those that has is a clinical donor centre manager who has isolated herself from her family so she can carry on her vital work at Luton donor centre.

We have followed new social distancing and hygiene rules at every session for the safety of donors and staff, and to do this we have sometimes needed to change donation venues altogether.

Over 60 per cent of our venues have been in touch to offer us priority access and we have had many generous offers from new venues. This support has been crucial and a great deal of thanks is owed to all the venues, old and new, that support our community donation sessions.

Behind the scenes

With donors eager to help, our national contact centre in Northern Ireland has been extra busy: it received three times the normal number of calls in March alone. As well as giving extra time to take the additional calls from donors wanting to book appointments, we have been overwhelmed by the interest of tens of thousands of new donors coming forward to register.

Transport blood to manufacturing siteOur transport and logistics team have similarly been going the extra mile – they’ve been working extra hard to maintain the supply of essential products and equipment to sessions and bring the blood back to base.

Under the new working conditions, they have delivered huge volumes of hand gels, wipes and gloves and are now distributing aprons and masks too. Nearly 60,000 face masks have been delivered in one week in April to sessions all over the country from our distribution centres in Bristol, Borehamwood and Warrington.

Staff in our manufacturing and testing teams have also been making vital changes to the ways in which donations are tested and treated before they are sent to hospitals, with new procedures and working practices introduced, as well as providing crucial expertise in the trial of convalescent plasma to help coronavirus patients.

Thank you – to you! You all make a difference every day, giving the gift of life to those who need it!