LONDON, June 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
Around 118,000 more first time donors are needed to attend a blood donation session between now and the end of December to protect blood supplies. The figures have been released at the start of National Blood Week as NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for more people to 'get off the bench' and start giving blood. The need for people to join the Greatest Team in the World is also intensified as current and new donors are expected to be distracted this summer as people's attention turns to the Football World Cup*.
Each year 200,000 new donors are required to attend a donation session to replace those who can no longer donate for health or other reasons. This year 82,000 new donors have already visited one of their local sessions to join the blood donation 'team' but more are needed, especially those aged 17-24 years old who currently account for only 14% of donors in England and North Wales. Young donors are crucial to ensuring there is a robust donor base for the years to come and to protect the future supply of blood.
Jon Latham, Assistant Director for Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "Our blood donors make up The Greatest Team in the World and we're grateful to every one of them including new donors registering this year. We're issuing a 'call up' for more to come forward because we know blood donation falls off the to-do list during hot weather, summer holidays and big public events like the World Cup."
Former England footballer Lee Dixon reinvented himself as Terry Butcher who memorably gave blood due to an injury during the 1989 World Cup Qualifier in Stockholm. Lee also showed his support by visiting the West End Donor Centre in London, and meeting first time donors. He said "I wanted to support the campaign by visiting the West End Donor Centre to thank new young donors for taking the time out to donate. Blood donors don't always get the recognition they deserve but in putting the needs of others ahead of their own they show real team spirit."
While all blood groups are important, some blood groups, such as O Rh negative -the universal blood group - and B Rh negative are more vulnerable than others. It's even more important that the number of regular donors with these blood groups increases. Many people don't know what blood group they are until they make their first donation.
* During a previous international football tournament, the number of blood donations collected on England football match days fell by up to 5%, and up to 12% on the day following an England match.
SOURCE NHS Blood and Transplant