Rachel Stamford

News Editor

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service requires 442 people to give blood every day during December.

Scotland's National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) is calling for new blood donors this month and is reminding people that its centres are open during the holidays.

SNBTS requires 442 people to give blood every day during the month to cope with demand. Some of the treatments the donations are used for include road traffic accidents, supporting the Major Haemorrhage Protocol in Scottish hospitals, treating women after birth and helping those with rare illnesses like sickle cell anaemia.

The centres are open for donations over the holidays, including Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and Hogmanay.

Lynne Willdigg, Associate Director of Donor and Transport Services at SNBTS, said there are eight different blood groups and SNBTS aims to maintain a five to seven-day supply at all times of each one. The organization wants to ensure they meet the clinical demand for blood over the festive period.

“Today we are asking new and existing donors alike to come forward now to donate and help us ensure all hospitals are well stocked throughout December allowing both planned and unplanned blood transfusions for patients to be there when needed,” Willdigg said.

Beth, a research assistant and mum-of-one living in Glasgow, was diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was three months old. As someone with the disease, minor health issues such as a cold can have a major impact on her, making Beth dependent upon blood transfusions.

“Most months, I need a procedure which contains eight to 10 transfusions to stabilise me, which means I’ve had thousands of donations in my lifetime so far,” Beth said. “I'd like to thank everyone who donates blood, as without you many of my treatments simply would not be possible.”

Also helped by Glasgow blood donations is retired teacher Kenneth McGowan who in turn gave 340 donations of whole blood platelets and plasma and helped students donate as part of the SNBTS school talk programme.

McGowan said: “On 5 November last year I was diagnosed with what was later discovered to be Burkett Lymphoma, which required 600 hours of chemotherapy and I also had three doses of sepsis because my neutrophils were zero. To overcome this I received six units of blood products to keep me on planet earth. In August this year I was given the all clear. This was all due to the skill and patience of the haematology department in Hairmyres and Monklands, not to mention the amazing donors who freely gave blood.”

SNBTS is especially targeting young donors, which have dropped by 60 percent in 10 years. In the same period, the average donor age has increased from 38 to 42.

The school talk programme mentioned by McGowan speaks to S5 and S6 pupils at over 350 secondary schools in Scotland, and last academic year it welcomed 2,346 17-year-old blood donors.

However, Willdigg said this is not enough. She said in addition to their new donor campaign, SNBTS is rolling out an online booking system which is already operational in their fixed donor centres and developing further initiatives to digitalise elements of the blood donation process.

Interested blood donors can call SNBTS on 0345 90 90 999.

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