NHS Blood and Transplant have made an urgent call for people in Harrow and Barnet to donate blood due to a huge increase in demand in London for a rare blood type needed to treat a disease that disproportionately affects black people.
Details released this week call for more people of black heritage to urgently donate blood at Edgware Blood Donor Centre.
There are 339 blood donors with Ro blood at the Edgware Blood Donor Centre but more are needed. Last year, hospitals across London as a whole requested 58% more R0 blood than they did five years ago. Demand is expected to continue to rapidly grow.
Ro is the blood type in fastest growing demand across the whole country. It is urgently needed to treat people with sickle cell disease, the fastest growing genetic disease in the UK. Both Ro blood and sickle cell are more common in people of black heritage.
Sickle cell is a genetic disorder which causes red blood cells to form into sickle or crescent shapes and become stuck in blood vessels, causing agonising crisis episodes, and serious or even fatal long term complications including organ damage and strokes.
Many people with sickle cell rely on regular blood transfusions to stay alive. This blood needs to be well-matched and people of the same ethnicity are more likely to be a match.
Dr Naim Akhtar, NHSBT Consultant Haematologist and Lead in Donor Medicine, said: “Getting enough Ro blood is our biggest priority and London is the area with the most need.
“Ro is used mainly used to treat sickle cell, the most common and fastest growing genetic disorder in the UK. It mainly affects black people.
“Blood transfusions needed to closely matched, and this is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity. There is a rise in black people donating blood, but we urgently need more black people to become regular donors at the Edgware Donor Centre.”
The Edgware Blood Donor Centre is at Westgate House, Edgware Community Hospital, Burnt Oak Broadway, HA8 0AD.