Cumbrian folk doing 'something special' - helping to save lives
Last updated at 11:03, Saturday, 31 December 2011
It’s 10.30am on Wednesday – the first day after the Christmas bank holiday – and about 20 people are already giving or waiting to give blood at a clinic in Dalston’s Victory Hall.
This is good news as statistics show that 93 per cent of donors give blood during the working week and that when there are a string of bank holidays or big sporting events, national donation levels drop.
Helen Whelan, regional manager for the north west and Wales NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The Cumbria team collect 16,000 units of blood a year.
“We always rely on our regular donors to come time and time again.
“In an area such as this they are very loyal to the service.
“About 6,500 to 7,000 units of blood are needed in hospital every day so we need that amount of donors to come forward to replenish the stock.
“1.9 million units of blood are needed every year – it’s quite a challenge.”
Helen says everyday challenges can affect donor sessions.
“We have had to cancel them in the past when the elements were against us. One place where we were due to meet had to be abandoned because it flooded, another had the roof blown off.
“Donor clinics have to be comfortable and warm for the patients. If there are any problems with heating then we might have to abandon the session and that’s not good for our blood stocks.
“The places where the clinics are held are organised well in advance by the Cumbria team. We book the sessions well in advance to ensure that the venues are available.”
Blood groups that are currently in shortage are O negative and B negative.
Helen said: “People in blood groups that are in demand are sent letters asking them to come forward and donate.”
Building up a stock is important especially when there are bank holidays and other national events like the Royal Wedding.
Helen said: “We tend to find that people take holidays around bank holidays and other national events and this is when we struggle. It is a challenge for us and next year will be no different as we have the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Easter, the Euro 2012 championships and the Olympics.”
The bumper bank holidays around Easter and the Royal Wedding week earlier this year resulted in 3,500 fewer donations in the region.
Trying to build up extra stocks is key.
Blood ‘products’ are not just for road traffic accidents, they are used to treat people with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, sickle cell disease, for new mums and babies, and during surgery.
The average donor can give three times a year, but they must be over 17. There is no top age limit. People can continue to give blood as long as they are fit and healthy.
Helen said: “Carlisle has a high number of regular donors and is very well supported. Kendal, which is looked after by our Lancaster team, is also popular.
“Most regular donors are male by default. Ladies tend to skip a few years when they are pregnant.
“You see everyday people walking down the street and you would never guess that they are life savers – but they are, every single one of them. They are doing something special.”
Canceling appointments if you can’t make it is also very important.
Helen said: “Sometimes people book to donate at a session and then they don’t turn up. This can be very frustrating for us as we are relying on that donation for our quota.
“By not turning up and not canceling the appointment they are denying someone else of the chance to give blood.
“We ask if people can’t make it that they ring our national call centre on 0300 123 23 23 to cancel their appointment so that someone else can take their place.”
At Wednesday’s session, Sophie Graham, 18, of Great Orton, was giving blood for the first time. She said: “I’ve always wanted to give blood and I heard about the appeal on the radio on Wednesday morning so I decided to come along to Dalston.
“I’m a home carer and so I see the other side of why blood donation is important.
“I don’t mind needles so that side of it doesn’t bother me.
“I just think it’s a good thing to do and I feel fine so I will definitely come back in future.”
Agnes Stephenson, 55, of Thurstonfield, was about to give her 21st donation.
She said: “I started giving blood in Glasgow when I was about 30.
“My blood type is A negative and I heard that stocks of this kind of blood were low so that was an added incentive for me and I wanted to help.
“I tried to be a bone marrow donor as well but I couldn’t do that because my platelets weren’t suitable.
“My husband has high blood pressure so he is unable to give blood.
“To me it’s half an hour of my time and I could be saving someone’s life.
“I feel great afterwards. I just get on with my life as normal.”
Agnes, a book keeper, added: “I usually come to the Dalston session because the one in Carlisle – particularly at the Crown and Mitre – is just so busy.”
Barbara Blanche, donor relations manager for the North West, said: “Approximately two million units of blood will be needed by hospitals throughout 2012, and the equivalent of 500 extra donations will be needed each week in the first six months to help us build blood stocks and cover extra potential needed each week in the first six months to help us build blood stocks and cover extra potential need from Olympic visitors.”
Blood donors are needed in Whitehaven Civic Hall on January 3 from 2pm to 7pm; Kingmoor Junior School in Carlisle on January 13 from 4pm to 7pm; Egremont Market Hall on January 16 from 3pm to 7pm; the Shepherd’s Inn at Rosehill on January 17 from 12pm to 4pm; the ballroom at the Crown and Mitre on January 19 from 2pm to 7pm; Currock Community Centre on January 20 from 3pm to 7pm; Harraby Community Centre on January 31 from 3pm to 7pm and St Michael’s Parish Rooms in Workington on February 1 from 3pm to 7pm.
To find out more visit www.blood.co.uk
- Donors are advised to have something to eat and drink before and after each blood donation session
- It can take anything between five and 12 minutes to give a donation
- The NHS needs 7,000 voluntary donations of blood daily
- A unit of blood is measured as 470mls (just under a pint)
- Blood donors can give every 16 weeks (every three months)
- First time donors should be aged between 17-65, weigh at least 7st 12lbs and be in general good health
- If you have donated before, you can start up again any time up until your 70th birthday and there is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years
- More than four per cent of the eligible population are active blood donors.
First published at 08:06, Saturday, 31 December 2011
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk