NHS issues urgent call for more black blood donors to treat sickle cell

NHS issues urgent call for more black blood donors to treat sickle cell
NHS issues urgent call for more black blood donors to treat sickle cell

Arabnews24.ca:Wednesday 5 October 2022 09:28 PM: The NHS has issued an urgent call for blood donors from the black community to help treat sickle cell.

Sickle cell is a blood disease which disproportionately affects people of African or Caribbean heritage and has become the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK.

It 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 patients need frequent blood transfusions just to stay alive.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said that a record level of blood donations are needed every day to treat people with sickle cell disease, with demand rising by around 67% over the past five years

Daily, some 250 donations are needed to help people with sickle cell, up from 150 donations five years ago.

Demand is being driven as patients live longer and the increase in complete blood transfusions which improve results for patients.

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Currently the NHS is only able to provide transfusions that match patients' blood types just over half the time.

Image: Lanre Ogundimu nearly died in 2018 from a bad reaction to a donor’s blood.

This leaves other patients being treated with the universal blood type, O negative, which, though clinically safe, can eventually lead to complications.


Some 55% of black people have a Ro blood type, compared to 2% of the wider population.

Lanre Ogundimu from South London has sickle cell and nearly died in 2018 from an adverse reaction to a blood donation.

Although the major blood groups were matched, she reacted to a minor blood group and the lack of ethnically-matched blood increases the risk of these reactions.

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Lanre, a radio producer, said: "I can't receive blood as a standard treatment anymore. Well-matched blood from within the black community can be the difference between life or death."

Cherrelle Lawrence, a Senior Biomedical Scientist at NHSBT's blood matching lab in London, said: "Matched blood is vital for sickle cell patients to reduce the risk of serious complications. People from the same ethnic background are more likely to have matching blood.

"There is a rise in black people donating blood, but we urgently need more to become regular donors. Giving blood is easy, quick and safe - and you will save and improve lives."

You can become a blood donor via the GiveBloodNHS app or at www.blood.co.uk.

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