After a concerning couple of years, the number of new blood donors is finally back on track, according to new data released this week by Give blood. And a regular donor has urged people to get involved.
Between 2016 and 2018, the amount of new blood donors decreased across the UK. In particular, the number of new donors dropped by more than 500 people in Yorkshire, despite over 13,000 new registers to Give blood UK. So why the drop in blood donors when so many people had registered to do so?
“We constantly review the demand for blood and blood products which has reduced and continues to do so due to medical advances” said Grace from NHS Blood Donation. “We have closed some sessions over the last few years because the long term trend is for hospitals to use slightly less blood each year. This has resulted in managing blood collection more efficiently, sometimes making it more difficult to get appointments.”
A push for rarer blood type donations
The NHS says they need “30,000 new donors with priority blood types such as O negative every year.” A regular blood donor from Yorkshire spoke to Leeds Hacks about his experience of being a patient with an O negative blood type.
“The first time I gave blood it was out of morality and goodwill. I realised after my first blood take that I am an O negative blood type, which means it is the only blood type that can be given to everyone,” said Tom Kilvington, from Leeds. “After that, I was spammed with phone calls and emails saying “When can you give next, when can you give you next” which I guess is kind of pressuring.”
A positive future for Give blood UK
Yorkshire and The Humber has one of the best new donor registrations figures in the country. In 2019, around 15,000 more new people have registered to donate blood than in 2016. London currently has the biggest increase of around 18,000 new registrations.
Although Yorkshire has 43,734 new people registered to give blood in 2019, only 36% of these people actually donated.
“There is only my mum and myself who I know that have given blood, which I think is quite bad. People don’t see it as a crisis, people don’t feel the need to give blood. It is one of those things until you need it, you don’t realise how important it is,” said Tom.
The NHS need to reduce blood wastage
Grace from NHS Blood Donation explains why a smaller percentage of people registered actually donate.
“We have to manage stock much more effectively to reduce wastage and make savings for the wider NHS. We therefore have to ensure that we have the right amount of appointments enabling us to collect the right amount of donations. All blood donors are important. Your donation is precious and we want to make sure we collect it when it is needed most to save a life.”
Tom’s favourite part of the giving blood experience was when he found out what happened to his blood after he had donated it. “You get texts, they tell you which hospital it goes to. One of my donations went to Birmingham hospital and one went to a royal military hospital somewhere to help the wounded from war. I thought it was really interesting.”
For more information on how to give blood visit: https://www.blood.co.uk/.