While the nation writes their Christmas lists and wait with anticipation at what Santa might bring, there are many people who can’t wait. Their must-have gift is something far more vital than the latest gadget or toy – it’s blood. NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for people living in East Riding to step forward and donate so patients whose lives depend on blood transfusions get what they need over the festive period.
November through to the New Year is typically a challenging time for blood stocks. Hospitals in England and North Wales will need up to half a million units of blood to see them through the period. However, Christmas shopping, the party season, and the general rush together with the extended public holidays mean taking the time to donate can slip off people’s to-do list, putting pressure on blood stocks.
A new radio advert, online campaign and short YouTube film are being launched to remind the public why they should give the ultimate gift.
Five year-old Alexis Wallace, a patient at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia with a high stroke risk at just three months old and needs blood transfusions every four weeks to prevent her from having a stroke. She features in the radio ad and online film, appealing to people to give blood over Christmas to ensure she gets the gift she so desperately needs and deserves: “All my friends want the latest doll or video game, and although I do too, what I really need is blood.”
Alexis’ mum, Clare, from South East London, said: “You wouldn’t forget to get your kids or members of your family a present so please don’t forget to donate blood – you never know when someone you love might need it. My daughter, and other sick children like her, need blood to stay alive or to be well enough to enjoy Christmas, so please if you can, donate blood or platelets now or in the next few weeks.”
A unit of blood has a shelf life of 35 days. Hospitals in England and North Wales need around 7,000 units of blood every day to treat patients in urgent need and each unit donated could help save or improve the lives of up to three people. Besides being crucial to care in A&E, blood is used to treat patients with cancer, blood disorders like sickle cell or thalassemia as well as women needing blood during childbirth.
Donna Batty, NHS Blood and Transplant’s Lead Donor Relations Manager for East Riding, said: “This is an extremely challenging time of year for us as we need to make sure that hospitals are supplied with the blood they need to treat patients over the Christmas holidays. So while people are in a generous frame of mind, we’re asking that they don’t forget those whose must-have gift is blood. Donating doesn’t cost a penny and saves lives, meaning many more children and adults can spend precious time with their families over Christmas.
“Whether you’re a regular blood, or are new to donating, you can make a real difference. So please make an appointment now to save lives.”
If you’re 17 and over and in general good health, visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23 to find a session in England or North Wales near you to go and give blood. While all donors are important, O Rh negative and B Rh negative blood donors are particularly needed.