National Blood Service launches drive for more Black and Asian blood donors

National Blood Service launches drive for more Black and Asian blood donors

The National Blood Service (NBS) is launching a campaign to encourage more Black and Asian people to give blood and join the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR). The ‘Circle of Life’ campaign is aiming to raise awareness on why more people from ethnic communities need to donate blood and encourage them to take action.

The campaign is reaching out to communities with a number of activities including sponsorship of the ACLT’s Gift of Life Ball, endorsement from Faith Leaders, a celebrity donor clinic, a ‘Circle of Life’ art competition and events. The overarching aim is to bring communities closer to donation, demystify the process and increase the number of potential donors coming forward.

The NBS collects around 8,000 blood donations every day just to maintain the supply of blood to hospitals across England and north Wales. Statistics show that only five per cent of the eligible population donate blood, and less than three per cent of the total number of donors are from ethnic minority backgrounds. This means that on average, just over 200 people from BME communities donate each day across the whole of the UK.

Zeeshan Agshar of the NBS explained why the organisation is aiming to increase this number to at least 300 a day, and also increase the Black and Asian registrations on the BBMR by a further 1500.

“We are encouraging people from the widest communities to come forward to ensure that whenever someone is in need of blood or bone marrow, there is a matching type available. Some blood types are more common within ethnic communities, and with bone marrow, you are much more likely to find a match from your own ethnic group. There are also health conditions prevalent within ethnic communities that need constant supplies of blood, like Sickle Cell Anaemia and Thalassaemia Major. All of these factors show just how important it is for people from all communities to come forward and give blood so we can continue helping those in need.”

In last year’s successful ‘Circle of Life’ campaign, 30 celebrities created circular works of art depicting the need for blood donation. In this year’s campaign, members of the public are being invited to take part and create their own circles. A competition will offer people the chance to have their artwork exhibited in a ‘Circle of Life’ Gallery alongside artwork from a host of famous faces. The Gallery will tour donor clinics in London and Birmingham in November and the winning designs will also feature in an advertising campaign to encourage people to give blood.

Zeeshan added: “Overall, we are trying to break down barriers to show that there is nothing to fear and that individuals can make a huge difference to the lives of people in their own community. There is no better gift than the gift of life.”

If you are aged between 17 – 59 years of age, in general good health and weigh over 7st 12lbs (50kgs) you can potentially give blood. Donors can ring the National Donor Helpline on 0845 7 711 711 (open 24hrs) or visit www.blood.co.uk to register their details and find the venues and times for their nearest blood donation session.

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