Urgent appeal for blood donors after sickness hits supplies
THE National Blood Service has issued an urgent appeal for donors to come forward.
People with type O negative blood are desperately needed after a surge in demand coincided with a fall in the number of donations because of illness.
The NHS Blood and Transplant Special Health Authority runs the biggest blood processing centre in the world in Filton, dealing with 600,000 units of donated blood a year - a third of the country's donations.
But the service says stocks have fallen over the Christmas and New Year break.
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Type O negative blood is the most vital to the NHS because it can be given to patients with a different blood group.
The service says this can prove vital in an emergency, when there may not be time for a test to be carried out on a patient, as they can be given type O negative blood straight away.
As a result, people who have O negative blood – about 7 per cent of the population - are known as "universal donors" and a supply of their blood is in constant demand.
There has been a higher than normal use of O negative blood over Christmas and New Year, when hospitals were given extra stocks.
At the same time, the national norovirus outbreak and other winter illnesses have led to a 50 per cent rise in cancellations by donors booked in for appointments to give blood, which cannot be used when they have a contagious disease.
The service is now calling on fit and healthy donors with type O negative blood to drop in to their nearest blood donor session whenever they are able, even if they do not have an appointment, to help boost supplies.
NHS Blood and Transplant spokesman Jon Latham said: "We are always grateful to donors who respond to calls such as this and appreciate that in
doing so they do give up some of their precious time. Waiting times may vary in the next few days as we try to accommodate all donors.
Demand for blood never stops and O negative donors can help to ensure healthy blood stocks in the upcoming weeks, by giving blood now and in the next few days."
Anyone aged between 17 and 65, weighing more than 50 kg (7st 12lb) and in general good health can volunteer to become a blood donor.
There is no upper age limit for donors who have already given blood within the last two years.
For more information, to book an appointment or to find a local blood donor session 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk