Why the NHS need more people of black heritage to donate blood
As part of Black History Month, the Students’ Union are working with NHS Blood transfusions and doners to provide information to student’s and staff and give them the opportunity to register as a doner.
There is an increased demand for some rare subtypes of blood, such as Ro, that are more commonly found in people of Black heritage. Infact the NHS states that ‘Black heritage donors are ten times more likely to have the Ro blood type urgently needed to treat the 15,000 people in the UK with sickle cell disorder.’
Sickle cell is a painful and debilitating blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become sickle (half moon shaped). This makes it harder for red cells to move around the body and can cause them to stick together and block blood vessels. This can cause excruciating pain, anaemia, and organ damage. Although anyone can have sickle cell it most commonly affects people from black African or black Caribbean backgrounds.
By donating blood, you can increase the chance of someone with sickle cell finding a suitable blood doner. In a blood transfusion, red cells are removed from a supple of donated blood, then given to a person with sickle cell through a vein. This increases the number of normal red blood cells, which helps reduce symptoms and complications.
In recent years campaigns to remove certain questions from blood doner questionnaires have been successful, meaning that more people can donate. Before 2021 doners were asked if their partner has ever had sex in areas which HIV is endemic, which included most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Instead, all doners are asked the same questions about recent sexual behaviours and are eligible to donate if the risk of past or recently acquired infection is low. It is hoped that more people from Black African communities are now able to give blood since the removal of this rule.
You can find out more information on how to give blood by visiting Home - NHS Blood Donation.
Why Black, Asian and minority ethnic donors are needed - NHS Blood and Transplant (nhsbt.nhs.uk)
Sickle cell - NHS Blood Donation
Organ donation and ethnicity - NHS Organ Donation
Funding for more South East black and Asian blood donors - BBC News
End the African blood donor ban, say MPs | Terrence Higgins Trust (tht.org.uk)