Luton woman who lost her friend to sickle cell backs biggest ever NHS blood donor recruitment drive as it launches today

Number of donors is lowest since 1996

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 9:08 am

A Luton woman who lost a good friend to sickle cell anaemia, is backing a new NHS campaign to celebrate the amazing effort of blood donors during the pandemic, to encourage new donors to join this lifesaving club and aid the NHS recovery.

Peace Adetoro, a housing association worker who has the rare blood type Ro, has been giving blood since 2014.

Her support comes as NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed the pandemic has left England with its lowest level of blood donors since 1996.

Peace Adetoro

Hospitals in England were kept in good supply with blood during the pandemic by the smallest pool of donors in the 21st century. Around three quarters of a million people in England donated blood during the height of the pandemic – almost 40,000 fewer regular donors than the year before.

Now, as life returns to normal and with fewer people donating regularly, the NHS needs new blood donors to play a crucial role in its recovery. An unprecedented 100,000 new donors are needed nationally to register and donate blood by Spring 2022 to achieve the largest ever annual recruitment drive and join the amazing 67,000 new donors who have already joined the club this year.

New donors are needed at Luton Donor Centre, St George’s Square, 4 Bridge Street. Around 1,434 extra appointments have been added at this Donor Centre in November to make booking your first donation even easier.

After the sad death of her friend due to sickle cell, Peace was inspired to raise awareness about the condition, and wrote a book. She also has a dedicated Facebook page called ‘a world without sickle cell.’

Peace said: “People with sickle cell need blood to survive and be treated. I always encourage people to give blood and tell them why I feel it’s such a good thing to do. You are saving lives and when I walk away after doing it – I feel great and like I’ve done something special. It’s a really uplifting experience!”

There is a particular need to recruit more Black donors to help treat patients with sickle cell disorder, which is the fastest growing genetic blood condition in the UK and mostly affects Black people where ethnically matched blood is critical for treatment.

People who are Black African, Black Caribbean and of Black mixed ethnicity are more likely to have the rare blood sub-group Ro that many Black sickle cell patients need. Also needed are new donors with O negative blood, which is the universal type and is often used for medical emergencies – 45% of new donors are likely to have O positive or O negative blood.

Demand for blood dropped by 27 percent at the start of the pandemic as hospitals reduced elective care. As a result, collections were adjusted and reduced by 21 percent. This ensured that blood stocks remain above the six day target throughout. Demand for blood is now back at pre-pandemic levels and may increase in the coming months as hospitals continue to catch up on delayed activity.

A new campaign This Is Amazing - NHS Blood Donation launched by the NHS today (Wednesday) will run for six weeks and include TV adverts and support from businesses and influencers to celebrate blood donors and their lifesaving role during the pandemic, urging others to join the club of dedicated and amazing donors.

Helen Duggan, Assistant Director of Donor Campaigns at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Maintaining a safe and regular supply of blood to hospitals is our top priority. Through the most critical time of the pandemic this was achieved thanks to a loyal club of existing donors.

“As hospitals catch up on routine care, we are facing a critical crossroads to meet the rise in demand for blood and are appealing for new donors in Luton to step forward and join this amazing group of lifesaving people.

“Nationally, we need 450 new donors every day to help meet the needs of patients right now and in the future. Please join this amazing club today and book an appointment to be part of the NHS recovery.”

Supporting the campaign the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said “The amazing efforts of donors kept the NHS supplied with blood over the pandemic. Now, as the NHS tackles the backlog, we need even more people to join those donors and give blood.

“This new campaign will help raise awareness, especially among black communities where there is a particular need for donors.”

“I urge everyone who can to sign up now and give the lifesaving gift of a blood donation.”

Blood is needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery, and O negative blood is mostly used for emergency care. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives. In recent years there’s been a particular need for more Black donors, who are more likely to have the RO sub-type blood needed to help treat people with sickle cell.