Batley & Spen MP Answers the Call for More Blood Donors

Tracy Brabin MP took time out to save and improve lives recently by giving blood.

Tracy has been aware of the importance of giving blood for a long time and following the NHS Blood and Transplant campaign ‘I’m there’ run during National Blood week she is encouraging people in Batley & Spen to consider registering as blood donors as well.

You can register as a donor, find out whether there is an upcoming session convenient to you and book an appointment to donate whenever and wherever you are through www.blood.co.uk or by using the ‘NHSGiveBlood’ app.

In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.

One of the biggest challenges facing NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is to recruit an estimated 40,000 black donors to meet the rising demand for particular blood groups. NHS Blood and Transplant has seen a 75% increase in the amount of requests for Ro blood, a sub group most common in black donors.

The primary reason for this is due to advances in the treatment of sickle cell disease, which means that patients are living longer, and the demand for transfusions for sickle cell patients is higher than ever before.

In the UK, 15,000 people have sickle cell disease and over 300 babies are born each year with the condition, making it the most common and fastest growing genetic disorder in the UK. The condition can cause extreme pain, life-threatening infections and other complications such as stroke or loss of vision.

In addition people from South Asian, Arab or Mediterranean heritage are more likely to have conditions, such as Thalassemia, which mean they need regular blood transfusions. There are an estimated 1,000 people in the UK who have Thalassaemia. 32% of South Asian donors are B positive compared to 7% of Caucasian donors.

NHSBT currently meet the need for B positive and Ro blood from existing donors, the majority of whom are caucasian. However, if they can match transfusion dependant patients with a donor of similar ethnic background they would be able to provide a better outcome, with a reduced risk of suffering a reaction and developing antibodies which can restrict future treatment.

Overall, hospital blood use is declining by 3-4% a year but there is always a need for new donors from all backgrounds to replace those people who cannot donate any more for reasons such as ill health or pregnancy. There are permanent blood donor centres on Manor Road in Bradford and on The Headrow in Leeds. There are also mobile blood donation sessions held at community venues across Kirklees including the Campanile Hotel in Cleckheaton, and Batley Sports & Tennis Centre.

Batley & Spen MP, Tracy Brabin said:

“I gave blood recently, and I encourage everyone eligible to do the same. It’s one of the most important things you can do.

“There are many people who wouldn’t be alive today without receiving donated blood. Quite simply, giving blood saves lives.

“Thanks to the online bookings system, it’s easier than ever to donate. It was no problem for me to find a convenient appointment to fit into my busy constituency schedule.”