The NHS is urging blood donors to keep their appointments during the coronavirus outbreak.
It said donations were lower than expected last week, amid fears donors are feeling unsure about safety and whether sessions are still going ahead.
The NHS needs to collect 5,000 units of blood a day, which is used to treat trauma, cancer, blood diseases, bleeds in childbirth and more. Each donation can save up to three lives, however, the number of blood donations collected last week was 15% lower than expected.
Roanna Maharaj, 30, from Wood Green in London, has thalassaemia major and needs blood transfusions every three weeks to stay alive. During a spell of poor health she had 248 units of blood over 18 months.
‘My body does not create enough haemoglobin to carry oxygen around my body. I’ve never taken blood donors and donation for granted, and this is truer now more than ever.
‘Right now, one of the most important things you can do to ensure we do not have another health crisis, is keep donating blood.
‘Many people like me rely on blood donations to stay alive.
‘Thank you to everyone who keeps donating as normal.’
In a bid to keep donations coming in as normal the NHS is sharing the safety measures it has put in place to ensure people can give blood safely.
From this week (March 23), staff will triage people on arrival to make sure they are well enough to come into the donation area.
Donation teams, who are already trained in thorough universal hygiene precautions, are already carrying out extra cleaning. While alcohol handrubs will be available on arrival for all to use.
Dr Gail Miflin, chief medical officer for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘We can assure people that blood donation sessions are still going ahead. If you are fit and healthy, travel to donate blood is essential for the NHS and seriously ill patients.
‘Extra safety measures are in place. For example, our trained staff will now check everyone on arrival at a session and even stricter cleaning procedures are in place once they are inside.
‘Blood donation saves lives and we will need our donors more than ever over the new few weeks and months.
‘Please keep your appointment to donate if you can. If you do have to cancel your appointment for any reason, then it is important that you let us know so we can offer your slot as soon as possible to another donor.
‘Combating the virus will take a huge national effort. Donation is something you can do to help the NHS. It’s a reason to go outside and then do something amazing.’
To make an appointment to donate or for more information on donating during the coronavirus outbreak, call 0300 123 23 23, download the NHS Give Blood app, or visit www.blood.co.uk
Photo Credit – Give Blood