NHS puts in urgent call for male blood donors from Putney Wandsworth and Wimbledon
This week is National Blood Week (June 10 to 16) and NHS Blood and Transplant is urgently calling for more men to start donating at Tooting donor centre, their aim is to get 2,500 new male donors this year.
New figures show that only 40% of active blood donors at the centre are male. Nationally, the number of male donors has also been dropping worryingly quickly.
NHS Blood and Transplant is now asking men in Wandsworth and Merton to make an appointment to donate for the first time at the donor centre, which is in the grounds of St George’s Hospital.
Donors of every gender are welcome, and blood types are not gender specific. However there are two factors which make a strong number of male donors essential for a safe and efficient supply of blood to hospitals.
Men generally have higher iron levels than women, so they are more likely to be able to donate on any given day. Donors with low iron levels cannot donate to protect their own health.
Men also do not make new antibodies, which are part of the body’s defence system, during pregnancy. That makes it easier to match their blood to patients, and also easier to use their blood in products such as plasma and platelets, which are used for patients with cancer, major blood loss, burns injuries, and more.
One of the people supporting National Blood Week is Natalie Stevens of Tooting. Natalie was diagnosed with the extremely rare disease aplastic anaemia after finding she was getting out of breath and bruising easily. Blood donors kept her going until she could receive a lifesaving stem cell transplant from her brother.
Natalie went on to have 23 blood transfusions and 28 platelet transfusions. She received the stem cell transplant from brother Ryan at St George’s Hospital in London in February 2019 and is currently doing well.
Natalie had never been able to donate herself because she is a type 1 diabetic. Natalie is training to be a mental health nurse, she said: “I have been encouraging people to give blood, I meet a lot of people who say ‘I’ve been meaning to do that, or I would love to do it, but I haven’t got around to it’.
“For some people, my experience has given them that push to do it and they were surprised at how easy it was. I don’t think you can have a blood transfusion without looking at the bag and wondering who gave it and feeling grateful that people do take the time to do it.
“I hope people are inspired by my story to register as donors during National Blood Week.”
NHS Blood and Transplant is currently analysing donor recruitment trends to understand the reasons for the decline and is now working on reaching more male potential donors. Factors affecting male donor recruitment are thought to include the popularity of social media appeals, which are more popular with women. Men are more likely to view their first donation as a personal achievement, whereas women are more likely to be motivated by altruism.
Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We need more new male donors in Wandsworth and Merton to address the decline in men becoming blood donors. Blood donation saves lives.
“We can assure men that out there that blood donation is an amazing experience that you can feel proud of. Giving blood at Tooting donor centre is quick and easy – we aim to have you in and out within an hour but the actual donation itself should only take around 10 minutes. We need men to start their own blood story.”
Donor centres are bright, big modern venues, purpose designed for donation and created close to areas with target population groups. Community venues in the area are more likely to have enough donors already.
During National Blood Week NHSBT is asking people to share their stories of blood donation and transfusion to stop people taking blood for granted. Whether you’ve given or received blood please share your story for National Blood Week #MyBloodStory #GiveBlood
June 10, 2019