This National Blood Week (June 10 to 16), NHS Blood and Transplant is calling more for donors at Edgware Donor Centre with a rare blood type which is in the fastest growing demand in England.
New figures show that the Colindale stock holding unit, which serves Barnet, has had an 15.5% increase in demand for Ro Kell negative blood since 2015/16.The types can be found in anyone but black people are ten times more likely to have this rare and valuable combination of blood types. Existing donors with Ro Kell negative blood are being urged to talk to family members about donation, because they may also share this rare combination of types.
Currently, there are only 310 donors with Ro Kell negative blood at the Edgware Donor Centre, which is in Burnt Oak Broadway. NHSBT aims to recruit 300 more black blood donors to Edgware Donor Centre over the next year to help boost this number and ensure seriously ill hospital patients get the blood they need. People supporting National Blood Week include Leonard Kwashie from Harrow.
He is a B+ blood donor with the rare subtype Ro kell neg. Leonard first became a donor in 2017 through curiosity of wanting to find out what blood group he was. He said: “After my first donation, I received an email from NHSBT explaining my blood subtype was Ro kell neg. I didn’t understand what this meant so I called the careline, who explained to me how valuable my blood was in helping people with Sickle Cell disease.
“Even though I had initially gone for the ‘selfish’ reason of finding out my blood type, now knowing the ways my blood helps, has encouraged me to donate as often as I can”.
The 27-year-old who always donates at the Edgware donor centre, said: “When I was younger I hated needles, but donating is a very easy and friendly experience, especially at the end when you get chocolate biscuits!” Now Leonard knows the importance of blood donation, he also encourages friends and family to sign up to be a blood donor, he said: “I tell people, if you can, please give blood. Find out your blood type and how your blood can help people, you have the potential to give something amazing to someone else.” Leonard is now a regular donor, and gets a huge sense of pride from being able to donate his blood. “When life brings you down sometimes, it really elevates your sense of self-esteem knowing you’ve done something great, potentially saving lives.’
NHSBT is also launching a special service for donors with this blood group to help retain and recruit donors because of how critical their types have become to patient care. Donors will have a dedicated phone number to use. Only around 2% of donors have this rare combination of two blood types. Nationally, there has been a 50% increase in demand for Ro Kell since 2015/16, making it the combination of blood types in the fastest growing demand nationally.
Ro Kell negative blood is especially important for treating the rare, inherited condition sickle cell disease. (2) More and more patients in Barnet and North London with sickle cell disease are being given regular full body blood transfusions, known as red cell exchanges. Previously, many patients received intermittent ‘top ups’ but many more patients are now recognised as benefitting from regular red cell changes. However red cell exchanges require a lot more blood. Mike Stredder, Director Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Ro Kell negative blood is used vitally to treat people who need life-long transfusions to live longer, healthy lives. It is lifesaving.
“Blood donation is quick, easy and safe. We urgently need more Ro Kell negative donors at the Edgware donor centre to cope with the growing demand – we urge anyone with these blood types to talk to friends and family about donation.”
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