Tens of thousands of donors with a specific blood type are needed as blood donors to meet growing demand for treatment for sickle cell disease, it was announced yesterday.
This week is National Blood Week and NHS Blood and Transplant is using it to make an appeal for people with the rhesus sub-type Ro blood.
This is most common among people of African and Afro-Caribbean heritage.
The appeal is being linked to a new hashtag campaign #ImThere, aimed at spreading news about donation on social media.
Since 2014 hospital demand for Ro blood has increased by 75%, the organisation says. It needs another 40,000 donors to meet the demand.
There are 15,000 people in the UK with sickle cell disease and improved care has improved the demand for blood transfusions.
Omotolani Akinmuleya, mother of one patient, Matthew, aged ten, said: 'The blood he receives makes a huge difference. In the first two weeks after his transfusion he is like a normal ten-year-old. He has energy and is able to go to school. But after three weeks, he starts to look pale, jaundiced, tired and pain takes over.
'In the week before his transfusion, he will be in severe pain and often admitted to hospital. As a mother and carer, I really appreciate all of those who donate.'
Mike Stredder, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: 'We need to ensure that we have the right mix of donors and blood types, to help meet the needs of all patients who need life-saving treatment, especially those with conditions like sickle cell disease who require blood which is more closely matched than by group alone.
'In recent weeks, we have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people stepping forward and wanting to donate and show their support for those affected by recent tragic events.
'Thankfully, due to the loyalty of our regular donors, our emergency stocks have proven to be strong and sufficient, but we still need to ensure that we can be there every day, for every patient who needs us.'
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