Luton campaigner wants more people of Black heritage to give blood

A Luton sickle cell campaigner is encouraging more people of Black heritage to give blood.

By Lynn Hughes
Monday, 13th June 2022, 1:08 pm

Peace Adetoro started her campaign after losing a friend to complications of sickle cell.

Peace, 55, who works for a housing association, said: “People with sickle cell need blood to survive and be treated.

“I encourage people to give blood as 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!”

Peace Adetoro is campaigning to encourage more people to become blood donors

She is backing a campaign by NHS Blood and Transplant to encourage more people in Bedfordshire to give blood as new targets reveal 1,000 new donors are needed in the region to save lives over the next year.

Nationally one million more blood donors are needed to ensure patients receive the right type of blood to save and improve their lives, with a particular need for Black African, Black Caribbean and younger donors.

The five-year Blood Service Strategy, published today at the start of National Blood Week, sets ambitious plans to recruit up to a million new donors and double the number of regular donors with the rarest blood types.

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There is a particular urgency for more donors of Black African and Black Caribbean ethnicity to treat people with sickle cell. Sickle cell is the fastest growing genetic blood disorder in the UK and mostly affects people of Black heritage. It requires regular transfusions – most often with

the specific blood sub type Ro. Most patients are children, and demand for Ro blood is projected to double from 2016/17 – 2025/26. Fifty five percent of Black blood donors have the Ro subtype compared to 2.4% of donors from other ethnicities.

Stephen Cornes, Director of Blood Supply at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Currently we can only meet around half of the demand for Ro blood through our existing donor base and demand for this rare blood type is rising. This means many sickle cell patients often receive less well-matched blood which, while clinically suitable, can pose a longer-term risk to patients who receive regular transfusions. We urgently need new Black African and Black Caribbean donors to come forward and donate blood.

“In addition to the rarest blood types, we also need 1 million new donors over the next five years of all blood types. As the NHS treats more patients, we need to grow the total number of donors too.

“We carefully manage stocks to ensure we do not waste any precious blood. If you cannot get an appointment immediately it is because we have enough of your blood type right now. Please book for a later date or respond when we contact you.”

Young people and those of Black African or Black Caribbean heritage are being urged by the NHS to find out their blood type, by making their first donation at one of the many events being held at Blood Donor Centres in England.

Attend a What’s Your Blood Type event or register and book an appointment by visiting blood.co.uk, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app or by calling 0300 123 23 23. Or if you are an existing donor and have not donated in a while, book your next appointment, or keep checking back for future appointments.