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Why we need more black donors

Why we need more black donors

The increased demand for some rare subtypes, such as Ro, that are more common in people of Black heritage means we need more black people to become blood donors.

Demand for these subtypes is growing as more people have regular transfusions to treat blood disorders such as sickle cell.

Subtypes are important when someone has regular transfusions as they need blood that matches their own as closely as possible.

We need people from all communities to give blood to make sure there’s the right blood available for everyone.

Most people can give blood if they're fit and healthy. Check if you can donate.

In the UK, 15,000 people suffer from sickle cell disease and more than 300 babies are born with the condition each year. People with sickle cell have misshapen blood cells which do not carry oxygen efficiently around the body. This can cause extreme pain and life-threatening infections. Blood transfusions help to reduce and prevent these symptoms but to get the best treatment, patients need blood from a donor of the same ethnicity and we are not currently meeting these criteria with the amount of transfusions being given. This results in patients being transfused with a universal blood type; which will help their condition, but will not work as well as a transfusion that is matched in blood type and ethnicity. There is a particular need for the rare blood sub-type Ro, which is more common in people of African/Caribbean descent. However, only around 2 per cent of donors have this rare sub-type, so meeting the demand can be difficult. The blood of black donors plays a vital role in helping to save and improve the lives of those living with sickle cell disease in the UK today.

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