Black Britons urged to come forward as blood donors in new NHS campaign

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The NHS has launched a fresh appeal for more black blood donors

Last week the NHS revealed its plans to significantly expand the number of black and mixed-race blood donors in the UK over the coming years. The capital city will be where the main drive takes place since it is where approximately half of the black British population lives.

The aim is to recruit a total of 7,000 new donors from the black British community in London by 2020. Currently, although black people make up 5% of the British population, just 1% are donors.

Receiving more black donors is critical for the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) department since there are rare blood types which are more common among black people. Not only that, it is crucial for the health and wellbeing of black Britons themselves. There are certain blood disorders – including sickle cell anaemia – which are more prevalent among black people, meaning disproportionate numbers of black sufferers. Black sickle cell patients would benefit most from blood donated from someone of the same race i.e. another black person.

Theo Clarke, Marketing Manager for NHSBT made an appeal specifically for black donors to come forward. ““We need more black donors […] We’re incredibly grateful to those already donating, but it’s vital we encourage more black donors, particularly in London where such a large black population lives. And we need a new generation of donors to give blood and help save lives,” said Mr Clarke.

The campaign marks the sixth anniversary of the death of Daniel De-Gale, the UK’s first black bone marrow transplant recipient, on October 8 2008. De-Gale had a successful transplant which extended his life but, tragically, he died years later from an unrelated illness.

Daniel de-Gale’s mother, Beverley De-Gale, has spoken of the torturous time spent waiting and hoping for a donor for her son: "Like so many other families, we faced an agonising wait to find a matching donor for Daniel; the odds were stacked against us, as we were told that there were only 550 black people on the Anthony Nolan register at that time, despite years of campaigning. At times we felt helpless.”

So what exactly does being a blood donor involve?

  • You must be between 17-65 years of age

  • Each donation of blood takes just approximately 5-10 minutes

  • You can donate blood 3 times a year if you're female or 4 times a year if you're male

It is not only more black blood donors that are needed; the British Bone Marrow Registry is also lacking in black donors. When donating blood there is the option to join the registry, which involves volunteering to donate stem cells to patients in need. At the moment less than 20% of black transplant patients can find a bone marrow match because they usually need to be matched with someone of their own ethnicity.

The London campaign will last one month and will involve NHSBT staff working closely with community and religious groups to help raise awareness of the need for more minority donors and get people to sign up.

Please help end the current racial inequality that exists for black people in finding a blood donor in the UK.

For more information or to sign up as a donor please visit:

http://www.aclt.org/

http://www.anthonynolan.org/

http://www.blood.co.uk/index.aspx