We need more black donors to step forward to donate because black donors are more likely to have rare blood types.
Sickle Cell Disease, which can require long term blood transfusions, is most common within patients of black heritage and these patients benefit from receiving blood from a similar ethnic background. Blood is also required for emergency transfusions for those with rare blood types.
Black blood donor numbers are particularly low. According to 2011 Census information the black community makes up 4.8% of the English population, but active black donors currently account for only 1% of blood donors. This is not enough.
NHS Blood and Transplant are looking to increase recruitment of black donors across the UK. Following recent community led work in London, Birmingham and Manchester, the aim is not only to get the black community registering and donating blood, but also to get it talking about blood donation.
Shalona has sickle cell anaemia and owes both her life and that of her daughter, Harmony, to the generosity of blood donors. Seven years ago, the 29-year-old fell critically ill while 38 weeks pregnant.
Shalona said: “My red blood count was at its lowest and my body had had enough and was on the verge of giving up. Luckily blood was available for a transfusion and a day later my daughter was born a healthy 6lb 14 oz. I was on the road to recovery and was able to enjoy motherhood.”
Shalona has since needed a second, life-saving blood transfusion after suffering a sickle cell crisis three summers ago.
She adds: “I’d like to say thank you to all those who have donated blood. If blood had not been available when I needed it, I may not have survived something as natural as childbirth. Being able to raise my daughter and see her grow is priceless.
“To those who might be thinking of donating I would say this: it really does make a difference between another person’s life and death. I’m fortunate enough to have only needed two transfusions so far. However, there are many more people within the black community with blood conditions like sickle cell who need regular transfusions just so they can live a somewhat normal life. By being a blood donor, you have the ability to give life.”
To become a donor couldn’t be easier.
Donors can search for sessions, change their contact details, book appointments and change/cancel their appointments in real time on www.blood.co.uk
Download our apps for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices to search for sessions based on your location, and to book and manage appointments.
NHSBT’s donor line – 0300 123 23 23 – is available 24 / 7 with all calls charged at the standard local rate, even from mobile phones
To donate for the first time takes around an hour, the giving blood part is only 5-15 minutes maximum.