Black community members urged to donate blood for sickle cell treatments
New and existing blood donors of Black and mixed Black heritage are being urged to attend blood donation sessions on World Sickle Cell Awareness Day (Saturday 19th June) and Father’s Day (Sunday 20th June).
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is one of five London locations where people can donate their blood over the weekend sessions, held in memory of Evan Nathan Smith – a young Black man who had sickle cell disease and died following a sickle cell crisis in 2019.
The sessions are part of a nationwide appeal by United by Blood, a coalition supported by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), comprising of social organisations: African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), Black Mums Upfront, and secondary school blood donation awareness programme, Cell Fe For Life.
Sickle cell is treated with blood transfusions and is the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK, with 15,000 existing patients and 300 babies born with sickle cell each year.
Donors from the Black and mixed Black communities are urgently needed as they are more likely to have Ro, the blood type needed to treat patients suffering from the complications of sickle cell disease.
Ro blood is ten times more common in Black people than in white people. Only 2% of NHSBT donors have Ro type blood.
Every month more than 1,300 new Black donors are needed to provide essential treatment for sickle cell and a range of other life-saving emergencies, including use during childbirth, surgery, and treatment of cancer. Each donor can save up to three lives with one donation.
The appeal encourages more Black people to register and become regular blood donors in Evan’s memory. Attendees will be able to pick up a DIY kit to find out their blood group, and trained staff representative of the Black community will be involved in the sessions.
Colin Anderson, community and engagement lead at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It is vital that Black people understand the growing need from within our own community for ethnically matched blood, and that they feel comfortable coming to donate.
“Sickle cell is the most common and fastest growing genetic disorder in the UK that mainly affects Black people, and many patients rely on regular blood transfusions to help treat and prevent the painful symptoms and complications. These patients require blood that is more 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 to become regular donors.
“Donation is quick and easy. Safety at collection centres is our number one priority, so people need have no worries about that. During the pandemic we have taken extra precautions including spacing donors out, extra cleaning, wearing of masks and temperature checks. Coming out of lockdown measures, we will continue to do what is needed to protect donors and staff.”
Local blood donation session:
Sunday 20th June
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Road, N17 0BX
Call the priority booking line on 0300 303 2737 to book your appointment and our community of life-saving donors who regularly save lives. Visit blood.co.uk to find out more.