As red blood cells have a shelf life of 35 days, NHS Blood and Transplant always aims to ensure there are healthy blood stocks of each blood group and takes action before stocks fall too low by calling for donors to come forward.
Donors with blood group O negative are typically known as the “universal donor” as their blood can be given to patients with a different blood group. This can prove vital in an emergency situation when there may not be time for an immediate blood grouping test to be carried out. Approximately 7% of the population have this blood group, yet 12% of the blood issued to hospitals for patient use is O negative.
Jon Latham, Assistant Director for Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘We constantly monitor donations and blood stocks for all blood groups throughout the year to ensure that we have enough blood to meet the demand of hospitals and patients, and have adequate contingency stocks.
‘Stocks of O negative are lower than we would like them to be and we are asking O negative blood donors in particular to call us now on 0300 123 23 23 to make an appointment to donate. We’re also asking donors who have an appointment coming up to keep it. We hope our fantastic donors respond to this appeal and that they bear with us if there are slightly longer waits than normal on session as a result.’’
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.
If you’re already a blood donor, why not look into whether you could become a platelet donor. We particularly need donors with the A negative blood group as they can help any patient, regardless of blood type. One platelet donation can help up to three adults or twelve babies or children.
It’s quick and easy to register to become a blood donor, visit ww.blood.co.uk, download a give blood app, search ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the app store or contact 0300 123 23 23. You can donate platelets at your nearest donor centre. If you already give blood, ask about platelet donation at your next appointment
Donating blood should take no more than an hour from appointment time and each donation can save or improve up to three lives.
To find out where your nearest blood donation session is visit: www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23