Around half of the active blood donors in Cambridgeshire are over the age of 45.
NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed the figures to encourage younger people, and those who could donate but no longer do so, to make a commitment to register to give blood during National Blood Week 2013 (10th -16th June).
The week is aimed at encouraging people to find out more about blood and blood donation – or to ‘Know Blood, Give Blood’. With seven out of ten 16-21 year olds wanting to know more about the blood donation process before deciding whether to donate, NHS Blood and Transplant hopes that extra knowledge will prompt more people to become donors, ensuring a steady supply of blood for NHS patients.
Things people often don’t know about blood donation and how blood is used include:
It’s not just used in A&E - blood is used to treat a wide variety of illnesses, including many types of cancers such as leukaemia.
Blood is collected to meet patient need – this need varies by blood group so sometimes just registering to be a donor helps especially if there is more demand for blood from a particular blood group.
New donors are always needed - each year people have to stop donating due to health issues, pregnancy and foreign travel so NHS Blood and Transplant constantly need to recruit new donors to replace those who can no longer donate.
Most people can be a donor - it’s really easy to check if you meet the criteria at www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.
Derek Carr, NHS Blood and Transplant’s Lead Donor Relations Manager for Cambridgeshire, said:
“We value all of our existing donors, but want to build up our donor base to maintain a steady supply of blood, which has a short shelf life, to help save and improve patient lives. In the last 12 months, a total of 8,017 people from Cambridgeshire signed up to donate blood, which is fantastic. We want to build on this to ensure we always have the right number of donors of the different blood groups to meet patient needs. For this year’s National Blood Week, we hope the people of Cambridgeshire will choose to sign up or come back and give blood to help save a life.”
During National Blood Week people can find out more about blood donation and how blood is used at one of NHS Blood and Transplant’s recruitment events, by visiting www.blood.co.uk or by following NHS Blood and Transplant’s Facebook (www.facebook.com/NHSBlood) and Twitter (@GiveBloodNHS).
Potential and existing donors in Cambridgeshire can also find out what being a platelet donor involves. The blood component, platelets, are collected in just 24 centres in the country and one of those centres is in Cambridge. Platelets are tiny cells in the blood which help to stem blood loss by enabling clotting and can be used to help cancer or leukaemia sufferers undergoing chemotherapy.
Anyone aged between 17-65, weighing more than 50 kg (7st 12lbs) and in general good health could potentially start saving lives by becoming a blood donor. There is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years.
While it isn’t possible for NHS Blood and Transplant to collect in every village, town and city in Cambridgeshire, the teams are never far away. A quick call to the contact centre 0300 123 23 23 or putting your postcode into our website www.blood.co.uk will give people information about the nearest and next sessions in Cambridgeshire and further afield.