NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is calling for more Luton and Dunstable donors with a rare blood type which is in the fastest growing demand in England.
New figures show that the Cambridge blood stock holding unit, which serves Luton, has had an 43per cent increase in demand for Ro Kell negative blood over the last four years.
The types can be found in anyone but black people are ten times more likely to have this rare and valuable combination of blood types.
Currently, there are only 222 donors with Ro Kell negative blood at the Luton Donor Centre, which is on Bridge Street, and NHSBT aims to recruit 200 more black blood donors to Luton Donor Centre over the next year to help boost this number.
HSBT is also launching a special service for donors with this blood group to help retain and recruit donors because of how critical their types have become to patient care. Donors will have a dedicated phone number to use. Only around two per cent of donors have this rare combination of two blood types.
Nationally, there has been a 50 per cent increase in demand for Ro Kell since 2015/16, making it the combination of blood types in the fastest growing demand nationally.
Ro Kell negative blood is especially important for treating the rare, inherited condition sickle cell disease. More and more patients in Luton with sickle cell disease are being given regular full body blood transfusions, known as red cell exchanges. Previously, many patients received intermittent ‘top ups’ but many more patients are now recognised as benefitting from regular red cell changes. However red cell exchanges require a lot more blood.
Mike Stredder, director of blood donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Ro Kell negative blood is used vitally to treat people who need life-long transfusions to live longer, healthy lives. It is lifesaving.
“Blood donation is quick, easy and safe. We urgently need more Ro Kell negative donors at the Luton Donor Centre to cope with the growing demand – we urge anyone with these blood types to talk to friends and family about donation.”
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