Why we need more Black African and Black Caribbean blood donors

Increasing the number of black people who donate blood is an urgent priority for NHS Blood and Transplant.

Black donors are ten times more likely to have the Ro and B positive blood types urgently needed to treat the 15,000 people in the UK suffering from sickle cell disease. Sickle cell is a painful and debilitating condition which is particularly prevalent in people with an African or Caribbean background.

To get the best treatment, patients need blood which is closely matched to their own. This is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity. Yet only 1% of current blood donors are black – that’s 11,400 people.

Each month hospitals in England request 3-4,000 units of red cells to treat patients with Sickle Cell. To meet this need we must recruit 40,000 more black donors. 

The shortage of Ro and B positive blood means sickle cell patients are often treated with substituted O negative blood – the only blood type that can safely be given to anyone. This treatment is less effective for patients than using more closely matched blood. Substitution puts pressure on O negative blood stocks which are in great demand for emergencies. 

Recruiting more black donors will improve the lives of sickle cell patients and reduce pressures on blood stocks.

Reverend Rose Gives Blood

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