Blood donation could drop over the festive period, health workers warn

Health workers are worried about a dip in blood donations in the East End over the Christmas period.

Last year NHS Blood and Transplant found that donations dipped by 20 per cent over the festive season, after bad weather and the distractions of Christmas led to many missing their appointments.

But there is not the same flexibility for those patients reliant on blood transfusions and in a bid to raise awareness of the continuing need for blood, earlier this month NHSBT arranged a donation drive at the Bishopsgate Institute.

The donation cycle must be regular because some disorders require elements of blood that cannot be stored for long.

People undergoing chemotherapy, for example, rely on platelets from donated blood, but these only have a five day shelf-life.

Deborah Ferris, donor relations coordinator for the Bishopsgate session, said more than 100 people were expected to give blood in Tower Hamlets that day.

For donor Anthony Turner, 45, it was the 31st time he had taken part in such a drive.

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He said: “In my opinion it’s a social duty, which doesn’t take long”.

John Canning, lead donor relations manager for NHSBT, said: “At Christmas time people are often busy shopping and celebrating with friends and family and it’s easy to forget that appointment in the diary to donate blood.

“If the weather’s bad that adds to the difficulties, but blood donors from every blood group are needed every day.”

Currently 96 per cent of Britons rely on the other four per cent of the population to give blood, even though anyone between 17 and 65, weighing more than seven stone and in good health is eligible to donate.

This Christmas the NHSBT has made a special appeal to O negative and B negative blood donors in Tower Hamlets.

Donors with blood group O Rh negative are known as the “universal donor” because their blood can be given to patients with a different blood group.

Donors with the blood group B Rh negative are more often found in Black and minority ethnic communities. Only two per cent of the population has this blood group and donors are particularly needed.