NHS desperate for male blood donors

Men in four South London boroughs are being urged to come forward to give blood to help increase supplies across the capital and save lives.

The NHS needs 1.6 million pints of blood per year. Just one donation can save or improve the lives of three people in need of a transfusion.

Blood donation brochures | Pic: Delfi Mocorrea

According to the NHS Blood and Transplant service (NHSBT), the number of men donating blood regularly has dropped steadily by 24.8 per cent over the past five years. The NHS has revealed it is desperate for more male blood donations.

The Sickle Cell Society are delivering a NHSBT project South London Gives which aims to increase blood donations. Project Manager, Tracy Williams, explained to EastLondonLines: “The focus is to recruit new African and Caribbean heritage blood donors in Lewisham, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark.”

Kevin Rukundo Sickle Cell Society | Pic: Tracy Williams

Last year in the Greater London area, only 43% of new donors were male. The NHS is keen to offset the current gender imbalance in donations and end the possibility supplies running low in the future.

According to medical experts, physiology plays a part:

  • Men are able to donate blood more frequently because their iron levels are stable, whereas women’s levels fluctuate during their menstrual cycle.
  • Men can typically donate every 12 weeks, whereas women can only donate every 16.
  • Men’s blood can also be used to give new born babies life-saving blood transfusions. Women produce new antibodies during pregnancy which can make it harder to match their blood with a patient’s.

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation for NHSBT, said: “It is vital that more men start donating blood because their blood is used to provide life-saving products like plasma and platelets – to save victims of burns, car crashes and to treat patients with cancer.” He emphasized he was still very grateful to female donors, but it was important that the gender gap was closed.

The Sickle Cell Society volunteers | Pic: Tracy Williams

Last year in Lewisham, 2,753 people started donating blood, but that’s still not enough, according to the NHS Blood Donation Service. They say making an appointment is quick and easy at ​www.blood.co.uk​. The procedure can be done across thousands of venues at the UK. Their target for 2020 is to raise the number of registered donors by 26%.

The Sickle Cell Society is appealing for new volunteers to help them spread their message about the benefits of being a donor. Anyone interested should contact Tracy Williams directly on her email: tracy.williams@sicklecellsociety.org.

Reporting by Clodagh Griffin and Delfina Mocorrea

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