More blood donors needed in Leeds as 1,500 fewer donations made last year

More blood donors are needed in Leeds after figures showed that there were almost 1,500 fewer donors last year.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 11:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 1:36 pm

Around 9,800 donors regularly donated at Leeds Donor Centre in The Headrow last year, compared with over 11,300 the year before.

This is 1,427 fewer donors during the height of the pandemic.

It mirrors the national picture in England which experienced the smallest pool of donors in the 21st century.

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People in Leeds are being urged to register as blood donors as part of a national NHS campaign. Pictured: The Blood Donor Centre in The Headrow.

However, fewer appointments were available for new donors during this time, as the NHS intentionally relied on existing donors.

As existing blood donors retired, this led to the community of active donors across the country shrinking last year to its lowest level since 1996.

The NHS is now urging people to step forward and donate blood in a bid to help the NHS recover this winter.

Helen Duggan, Assistant Director of Donor Campaigns at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Maintaining a safe and regular supply of blood to hospitals is our top priority.

"Through the most critical time of the pandemic this was achieved thanks to a loyal club of existing donors – the smallest of the 21st century.

“As hospitals catch up on routine care, we are facing a critical crossroads to meet the rise in demand for blood and are appealing for new donors in Leeds to step forward and join this amazing group of lifesaving people.”

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A total of 135,000 new donors are now needed nationally.

Around 2,954 extra appointments have been added at the Leeds Blood Donor Centre in November to help meet this need.

There is a particular need to recruit more Black donors to help treat patients with sickle cell disorder, which is the fastest growing genetic blood condition in the UK.

This disease mostly affects Black people where ethnically matched blood is critical for treatment.

Also needed are new donors with O negative blood, which is the universal type and is often used for medical emergencies – 45 per cent of new donors are likely to have O positive or O negative blood.

Demand for blood dropped by 27 per cent at the start of the pandemic as hospitals reduced elective care. As a result, collections were adjusted and reduced by 21 per cent.

However, demand for blood is now back at pre-pandemic levels and may increase in the coming months as hospitals continue to catch up on delayed activity.

Blood is needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery, and O negative blood is mostly used for emergency care.

Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

A new campaign (This Is Amazing - NHS Blood Donation) launched by the NHS today will run for six weeks and include TV adverts and support from businesses and influencers to celebrate blood donors and their lifesaving role during the pandemic, urging others to join the club of dedicated and amazing donors.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: "The amazing efforts of donors kept the NHS supplied with blood over the pandemic. Now, as the NHS tackles the backlog, we need even more people to join those donors and give blood.

"This new campaign will help raise awareness, especially among black communities where there is a particular need for donors.

"I urge everyone who can to sign up now and give the lifesaving gift of a blood donation.”

People interested in becoming a blood donor can register and book appointments by visiting www.blood.co.uk, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app or calling 0300 123 23 23.

Address: Leeds Blood Donor Centre, 117 The Headrow, Forsyth Court, Leeds, LS1 5JW.