The NHS have revealed there's been a drop in the number of male donors.
At the start of National Blood Week, NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for more men to start donating at their Bradford donor centre.
New figures show that only 46% of the current blood donors at the Bradford centre are male. Nationally, the number of male donors has also been dropping worryingly quickly.
NHS Blood and Transplant estimate they'll need 840 new male donors at the centre over the next year, and they're urging men in the city to consider making an appointment to donate at their Manor Row site.
Donors of every gender are welcome, and blood types are not gender specific. However there are two factors which make a strong number of male donors essential for a safe and efficient supply of blood to hospitals.
Men generally have higher iron levels than women, so they are more likely to be able to donate on any given day. Donors with low iron levels cannot donate to protect their own health.
Men also do not make new antibodies, which are part of the body’s defence system, during pregnancy. That makes it easier to match their blood to patients, and also easier to use their blood in products such as plasma and platelets, which are used for patients with cancer, major blood loss, burns injuries, and more.
Alex Luke, 26, from Bradford inherited an incurable condition called Sickle Cell Anaemia from his parents since birth.
Alex was at Queen Mary University of London studying Engineering in Telecommunications however he was forced to drop out due to his poor health.
“I was having a sickle cell crisis and I was in critical condition. I barely had enough blood in my body. My blood count on arrival was just 26hb compared to 135hb of a normal person. I was having tonic seizures; I couldn't remember my own postcode I was falling over and shaking repeatedly. I was extremely weak and dizzy collapsing all over the place without even knowing it.”
Alex was given an immediate blood transfusion as his state at that moment in time was considered life threatening.
“I am so grateful that I received that of unit of blood. I really don’t know what would have happened if it was not available. I felt like I was going to die and I honestly feel like; that blood transfusion I received saved my life.”
Alex had five units of blood in total, 1 emergency unit of blood in A&E and the rest he received in the main hospital ward.
“Had it not been that life-saving blood transfusion; I don’t think I would be here today but because someone out there donated their blood, I am able to feel lively once again.”
NHS Blood and Transplant is currently analysing donor recruitment trends to understand the reasons for the decline and is now working on reaching more male potential donors. Factors affecting male donor recruitment are thought to include the popularity of social media appeals, which are more popular with women. Men are more likely to view their first donation as a personal achievement, whereas women are more likely to be motivated by altruism.
Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said:
“We need more new male donors in Bradford to address the decline in men becoming blood donors. Blood donation saves lives.
“Men are more likely to be able to donate, and able to help more patients with each donation, so we need a new generation of young male donors, to ensure our donor base is strong enough to keep supplying lifesaving blood to hospitals.
“We can assure men that out there that blood donation is an amazing experience that you can feel proud of. Giving blood at Bradford Donor Centre is quick and easy – we aim to have you in and out within an hour but the actual donation itself should only take around 10 minutes. We need men to start their own blood story.”
Donor centres are bright, big modern venues, purpose designed for donation and created close to areas with target population groups. Community venues in the area are more likely to have enough donors already.
During National Blood Week NHSBT is asking people to share their stories of blood donation and transfusion to stop people taking blood for granted. Whether you’ve given or received blood please share your story for National Blood Week #MyBloodStory #GiveBlood
Become a blood donor. Register today and book an appointment at www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.