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Appeal for more black blood donors ahead of World Sickle Cell Day

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The Sickle Cell Society and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have joined forces to call for more blood donors from the black community ahead of World Sickle Cell Day on 19 June, the annual international day of raising awareness about sickle cell disease.

 

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited genetic condition which is prevalent among black, Asian and mixed-race people.

 

Regular blood transfusions are often a vital part of treatment for people living with the condition, so the Sickle Cell Society and NHSBT are hoping that World Sickle Cell Day this Wednesday will prompt more Black, Asian and mixed-race people to register as donors and give blood regularly.


The current levels of both Black, Asian and mixed-race blood donors are very low. People from the same ethnic backgrounds often share the same blood types, so recruiting more black, Asian and mixed-race donors helps to collect enough of each blood group. 

One family who appreciate exactly how important donated blood is for people with sickle cell are the Udueni family from Nottingham. Anthony and Margaret Udueni’s nine-year-old son Henry was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia as a toddler and now receives transfusions every month.

Anthony said: “Blood donors do a great thing for Henry – they have changed his life, really.

“Before he received blood he was at a very high risk of having a stroke, but since receiving transfusions, the brain scans have showed he’s at a much reduced risk.

“My message to blood donors is that we’re eternally grateful – the blood that you give directly adds value to Henry’s life.”

Vanessa Agyemang, an international model from Greenwich, was prompted to start giving blood as she has a number of friends with sickle cell disease and they rely on regular transfusions.

 

Vanessa said: “A few of my friends suffer from sickle cell disease so I’ve put myself forward as an ambassador to promote giving blood. 

 

“Because most people within our community don’t give blood, encouraging people to do so is really important.” 

Sickle Cell Society CEO John James is set to give blood himself on World Sickle Cell Day at NHSBT’s West End Donor Centre in London. He said: “I would like to urge all those people who can give blood to do so as this can help save lives such as those affected by sickle cell.

“We will continue to support NHS Blood and Transplant’s work to meet the challenge of matching supply with demand. Blood is a precious resource and the UK has a safe and reliable supply. Blood is collected to meet patient need – this need varies by blood group so encouraging more black, Asian and mixed race people to register and donate really helps, especially if more blood is needed from a particular blood group.”

NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson Theo Clarke said: “We hope the Sickle Cell Society’s appeal will help inspire more people from the black community to give blood.

 

“John’s commitment to donating perfectly demonstrates the link between sickle cell and blood donation and it is a link which we need more people to be aware of.”

 

The Sickle Cell Society also supported National Blood Week, which took place last week and saw a range of events and promotional activities across the UK aimed at recruiting more young donors.

 

For more information about becoming a blood donor or to make an appointment to attend a local session, either call 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk

 

PHOTOCALL/INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY:

 

  • Sickle Cell Society CEO John James is set to donate blood at West End Donor Centre, 26 Margaret St, London W1W 8NB, at 10.30am on Wednesday, June 19th 2013.
  • To attend please call the NHSBT press office on 01923 367600.
  • For additional information about blood donation please contact the NHSBT press office on 01923 367600 or pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk. For out of hours enquiries please call: 0117 969 2444.
  • For additional information about sickle cell disease please contact The Sickle Cell Society on 0208 961 7795 or email info@thesicklecellsociety.org
  • To donate please text CELL22 £3 to 70070

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