By: Pramod Thomas
London mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday (7) urged Londoners to give blood as hundreds of new donors are needed every day to help patients in the capital, a statement said.
Khan worked with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to host the first ever blood drive at the Royal Docks on Tuesday. The mayor was joined by NHSBT ambassadors Dr Emeka Okorocha and Dr Amos Ogunkoya, and deputy mayor for communities and social justice Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard to give blood and encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to become donors.
According to the statement, around 135,000 new donors are needed every year to ensure availability of blood to patients across the country, with at least 40,000 new blood donors needed in London each year over the next five years especially from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to keep supplying blood for lifesaving treatments.
Besides, London has the highest number of sickle cell patients in the UK which disproportionately impacts people of black Caribbean and black African heritage. Fewer than five per cent of donors in the last year were from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, the statement added.
More donors of black heritage are required as there has been a rise in demand for some rare blood types, such as Ro, which is most often needed by patients with sickle cell. Black heritage donors are 10 times more likely to have the Ro subtype and last year, hospitals in London asked for 58 per cent more Ro blood than they did five years ago.
Each month 1,300 donors of black heritage are needed to give blood to help provide life-saving transfusions to sickle cell patients, as well as for use in emergencies, childbirth, during surgery and in cancer treatments.
According to NHSBT, at least 16,000 more donors of black African and black Caribbean heritage are needed each year to ensure the right blood is available for patients.
“We urgently need more Londoners to come forward and give blood to help deliver lifesaving treatments across the capital and the country. Giving blood saves lives, providing a lifeline in an emergency and for people who need long-term treatments. I was proud to host this blood drive at City Hall as part of my work to build a better London for all, and encourage more Londoners to become donors,” said Khan.
Dr Weekes-Bernard said: “Due to our wonderfully diverse population, London is in a unique position to recruit more donors from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and we desperately need more Black Londoners to step forward to help those patients struggling with sickle cell.”
“Blood donation is amazing and it saves lives, yet right now we urgently need more donors of Black heritage to help tackle the health inequalities affecting patients from a similar ethnic background who rely on regular blood transfusions, a growing number of whom are Londoners,” said David Rose, director of donor experience at NHSBT.
“As one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, Londoners have the unique opportunity to be part of the solution by becoming donors. The event is a vital step in raising awareness of these needs and driving solutions between community partners in London on how we can work together and alongside the Mayor to tackle this challenge. To find your nearest appointment to donate visit the GiveBlood app.”
Beverley De-Gale, co-founder, African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, said: “I hope Londoners who are new to blood donation, in addition to existing blood donors, feel encouraged today to book an appointment to donate and continue to donate throughout the year; women can donate three times a year, whilst men can donate four times a year. Together let’s give those in urgent need the lifeline and treatment they require in an emergency or to treat lifelong illnesses such as sickle cell.”
“As a doctor I am well aware of just how important giving blood is. Blood is something we all have, something we all need and something we can all give. So if you meet the requirements, you should definitely give blood as we are currently at a shortage and need more donors. It’s simple, it’s quick and it’s easy and by just giving a little bit of time and a little bit of blood you could be making a big difference to somebody’s life,” said Dr Okocrocha.
Dr Ogunkoya said: “As a doctor every day I see the importance of giving blood. Giving blood is a very quick and painless process which can help save many lives, so please give blood today.”