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Urgent appeal for blood donors

Fergus Walsh | 23:09 UK time, Monday, 20 December 2010

Is your blood type O negative? Have you donated blood before? Are you in good health? If the answer to ALL of those questions is yes, then the NHS needs you - before Christmas.

Stocks of O negative are running low. There are about three days supply, instead of the usual five or more. Just 7% of the population are O negative, and they are often referred to as "universal donors". That is because their blood can be given to anyone - so it is especially useful to the health service.

Jon Latham from NHS Blood and Transplant issued this urgent appeal: "We would like O neg donors to have a look at our website - - and see if there is a session available for them and then ring our call centre on 0300 123 23 23 for an appointment. If there is not a convenient appointment, please still come in and we will do our best to accommodate you. Bear in mind it is Christmas and the best gift is to save a life and this will save lives. "

Regular donors of all blood types are asked to keep their appointments in the coming weeks. The reason for the shortfall in blood is that the ice and snow have made it impossible for many people to get to donor sessions. Some sessions have even had to be cancelled.

I'm used to being filmed as part of my job but today was the first time that I have talked to camera whilst donating blood. But since I am O negative and was due to donate this week, it seemed a reasonable way of publicising the appeal.

If you haven't given blood before then why not consider making it a New Year's resolution? You need to be at 17 and generally healthy. Just 4% of the population donate blood, and the other 96% have a lot to thank them for.

One last point - on blood donation and aspirin. You can still be a donor if you take daily aspirin, but you must let the medical team know. They cannot use the platelets if you have taken aspirin in the past five days, but they can still use the red blood cells and plasma.


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  • 1. At 02:03am on 21 Dec 2010, twistywillow wrote:

    As a regular donator I would like to underline the dire need for blood at this time. If you see the familiar red and white banners displaying donation centre, PLEASE PLEASE pop in. It is so important and this time of year, or even any time of year, if you can, please do. I cant currently, as I have a chest infection, but if you are healthy please give this gift, it could be the gift of life to someone and your small act of kindness could mean someone lives to see the new year.
    Blessed be and Thank you.

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  • 2. At 12:26pm on 21 Dec 2010, Djjones1983 wrote:

    As a fit and well, 27 year old male, with no past medical history, I am barred from donating my O-NEGATIVE blood.

    The reason being, is that I - like 10% of the population - am a homosexual.

    The sooner this draconian, unscientific, out-dated, arbitrary ban on gay men donating blood is lifted - the better for everyone.

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  • 3. At 1:02pm on 21 Dec 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    I am an open-heart surgery survivor (a rare survivor of the same problem as the US Holbrooke, deceased).

    Having had many, many litres of blood from unknown donors, I should like to publically thank all those who gave - and all those potential donors (gay, jaundiced, immuno-compromised, etc.) who wished to but could not.

    Thank you all.

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  • 4. At 1:43pm on 21 Dec 2010, dmcc wrote:

    I'm in the same boat as #2, Djjones1983. I've got A+ blood and would very happily donate it - in fact, I want to. But as a sexually-active gay man, I'm banned, despite the fact I have always practiced safer sex. I am probably a lower risk than a lot of straight people out there who have been allowed to donate, but I'm the one who gets turned away.

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  • 5. At 2:08pm on 21 Dec 2010, Alica wrote:

    Unfortunately, the donation process in England and Wales is not 'user-friendly'. I dropped by a blood drive last year and filled out the forms and went through the interview (spending over an hour of my time) only to be told that I would have to provide a test sample of my blood (because my mother was born in Mexico), wait several weeks to be approved, and then make a new appointment in order to donate. I spent several years donating blood on a regular basis in the United States and I was prepared to do the same in England. But, if the system is set up to force the donor to do all the work, I'm not surprised the blood banks are running a bit short. Change the donation system in England and Wales - take blood donations (you can 'weed out' the most risky donations - and by risky I do NOT mean all gay people - I agree completely with comments #2 and 4) and then test it. That's what they do in the US. After all, if you are asking us to give something so important for free - shouldn't it be as smooth a process as possible?

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  • 6. At 2:22pm on 21 Dec 2010, alien_mural wrote:

    If you live in Scotland, you should check out The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service is facing a similar shortage.

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  • 7. At 00:48am on 22 Dec 2010, Jupiter wrote:

    It seems like you can't donate blood if you were born outside UK or ever been lived or stayed outside the UK for a continuous period of over 6 months or more...

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  • 8. At 10:17am on 22 Dec 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    hello GeoffWard
    Didn't know you had the same problem.
    I should also say thank you to those who saved my chap by giving donations of blood this summer. Although my partner had open heart surgery he went straight back to work soon after his operation and is still working full time.

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  • 9. At 8:45pm on 02 Jan 2011, ErinCocks wrote:

    Just to say I was born in South Africa, a plaace with HIV, malaria, TB all the diseases etc you cannoy have to give blood and when i went to a blood drive and told them this they just said that I would need extra screenings but otherwise I could donate and I have my donation card so you still can and I do not think the system is bad. I also agree that homosexuals etc should also be allowed to donate, they have the same chance of having HIV etc as I did when I gave blood but I could..

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  • 10. At 1:10pm on 06 Jan 2011, ozy123 wrote:

    I'm sorry commenters 2 and 4 but it is scientific to bar men who have sex with other men from donating blood. You are not barred from donating because you are gay. If you are male and gay but do not engage with sex with another man you are welcome to donate. However MSM account for a disproportionate number of HIV infections - 63% in the UK. The testing of donated blood usually picks up most infections but there is a window between being infected and presenting which can sometimes be missed. You are excluded as part of a high risk group. There is also strong data to show that a lot of people deem themselves to be low risk and are unaware they have the infection so it would be risky to allow individuals who state they have been monogamous. It is a statistical probability and as such will exclude gay male individuals who are low risk - myself included.

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