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Black blood donors invited to special sickle cell donation sessions

Black blood donors are invited to attend special blood donation sessions for sickle cell in London later this month.

On World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, 19 June, and Fathers’ Day, 20 June, five London blood donor centres will be running special sessions to encourage Black and mixed Black heritage people to donate blood.

This is part of a nationwide appeal from United by Blood in memory of Evan Nathan Smith, 21, from Walthamstow who died due to a sickle cell crisis two years ago at North Middlesex Hospital, Edmonton.

IN MEMORIAM: Special blood donation sessions are being held in the memory of Evan Nathan Smith who died on April 25, 2019 aged 21 as a consequence of a sickle cell crisis

United by Blood is a coalition comprising of the social organisations African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), Black Mums Upfront and Cell Fe For Life and is supported by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

Black and mixed Black heritage blood donors are urgently needed as they are more likely to have the Ro blood type required for treating patients with sickle cell disease, each donor capable of saving up to three lives with one donation.

NHSBT Community and Engagement Lead Colin Anderson said: “It is vital that Black people understand the growing need from within our own community for ethnically matched blood and that they feel comfortable coming to donate. 

“Donation is quick and easy. Safety at collection centres is our number one priority, so people need have no worries about that. 

“During the pandemic we have taken extra precautions including spacing donors out, extra cleaning, wearing of masks and temperature checks. Coming out of lockdown measures, we will continue to do what is needed to protect donors and staff.”

NHSBT Community and Engagement Lead Colin Anderson. CREDIT: NHSBT

Sickle cell is treated with blood transfusions and is the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK, with 15,000 existing patients and 300 babies born with sickle cell each year.

NHSBT is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority, providing blood donation services for England and organ donation services for the UK.

They need to collect 1.4 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients, and urgently need more donors with Ro blood, which is ten times more common in Black people and is essential not only to treat sickle cell but for emergencies, childbirth, surgery, cancer treatment, and a range of medical conditions.

Only 2% of NHS Blood donors have Ro type blood making it a constant challenge to meet the 1,300 Black donors needed to meet the demand for Ro blood.

The special World Sickle Cell Awareness Day and Father’s Day donation sessions will have an extra element of celebration in addition to the customary warm and welcoming atmosphere of the donor centre, according to NHSBT.

Attendees will be able to pick up a DIY kit to find out their blood group, with a trained staff representative of the Black community there to support donors.

ONE DONATION COULD SAVE THREE LIVES: London Westfield Shepherd’s Bush Donor Centre. Credit: NHSBT

The venues for 19 June (World Sickle Cell Awareness Day) are:

  • London Westfield Shepherd’s Bush Donor Centre (first floor), Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 7GF
  • London Westfield Stratford Blood Donor Centre (lower ground floor), Stratford City, E20 1EJ
  • London West End Blood Donor Centre, 26 Margaret Street, W1W 8NB

The venues for 20 June (Fathers Day) are:

  • Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, N17
  • London Brixton – Lambeth Town Hall, 1 Brixton Hill, SW2 1RW

To book these appointments call priority booking line 0300 303 2737 

Alternatively, potential donors can visit this website to book a slot and to learn more.

South West Londoner has previously reported on the challenges faced by individuals with sickle cell here.

Main Image: Taken at London Westfield Shepherd’s Bush Donor Centre. Credit: NHSBT

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