The importance of giving blood has always been known to me, but since joining a Pharma and Healthcare Communications Agency it has become more apparent to the reason why…
“Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) makes the simple, but fundamental point that “Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life.” The World Health Organization (Blood products: Blood donation: Why should people donate blood?, 2022)
O so positive
Over the years, I have been a regular blood donor, reaching my 10th donation milestone back in November 2021. I was really chuffed to receive a 10th Donor Certificate and Pin Badge. Just like 36% of the UK population, I have the blood group O+, which is the most common type of the blood groups (Blood groups, 2022).
The NHSBT state that 1 in every 3 donors are O+, meaning anyone with an Rh positive blood type can receive O positive red blood cells. That’s 3 in 4 people, or around 76% of the population can benefit from my donation (O positive blood type, 2022).
A blood donor with a difference
Not long after reaching my 10th donation milestone, I was identified by The NHS Blood and Transplant Service as having a rare Ro subtype. According to blood.co.uk (Ro blood, 2022), the Ro subtype is a variation of the Rh positive blood group and is especially important because only 2% of regular donors have this Ro subtype.
It is because of this rarity among donors that The NHS Blood and Transplant Service started a new initiative to inform donors if they have the Ro subtype (The Ro subtype explained, 2022). The NHSBT ask these donors to make a special effort to continue donating as much as possible, because “Ro blood is rare among the donors, and there are patients in real need of it.”
Ro subtype is vital for sickle cell disease
Ro subtype is vital in treating sickle cell disease, a group of inherited blood conditions that produce unusually shaped red blood cells. This health condition is particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background (Sickle cell disease, 2022). This is reflected within the Ro subtype too, as the Ro subtype is 10 times more common than it is in those from a white ethnic background (A very special blood type, 2022).
There has been an increase in the number of patients with sickle cell who require regular ongoing blood transfusions for the management of their condition, so the demand for Ro blood has grown by around 10-15% each year (Ro blood, 2022).
I’ll do almost anything for a biscuit
It’s has been jokingly mentioned in the office at work that I will do almost anything for a biscuit, so I guess the fact I’m willing to trade my blood for a snack at the end of every donation is the definitive proof. The post-donation refreshments are in fact provided to help provide hydration and nutrition to donors and prevent fatigue or dizziness – a delicious bonus to knowing that I might have saved a life.
Donating blood may offer health benefits
It’s also very good to know that giving blood may offer a range of health benefits to the donors themselves. Research suggests donating blood may reduce your risk of heart disease (Salonen et al., 1998), reduce inflammation markers and increase antioxidant activity (Yunce et al., 2016).
So it’s great that I might be doing myself some good whist saving the lives of others.
In fact I call it ….
‘The icing on the biscuit’ (Andrew Parson)
It's National Blood Week 🩸❤️— ᴀɴᴅʀᴇᴡ ᴘᴀʀsᴏɴ (@AndrewBParson) June 18, 2022
Last year I hit my 10th donation milestone and that I have a rare Ro subtype that’s vital for sickle cell disease. Hopefully I can inspire others to donate.
My story: https://t.co/ODRDP2odls
🅾️➕ #NationalBloodWeek @GiveBloodNHS #GiveBlood https://t.co/jWfvDgmesu
Who.int. 2022. Blood products: Blood donation: Why should people donate blood?. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/blood-products-why-should-i-donate-blood [Accessed 31 May 2022].
nhs.uk. 2022. Blood groups. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blood-groups [Accessed 30 May 2022].
NHS Blood Donation. 2022. O positive blood type. [online] Available at: https://www.blood.co.uk/why-give-blood/blood-types/o-positive-blood-type [Accessed 30 May 2022].
NHS Blood Donation. 2022. Ro blood. [online] Available at: https://www.blood.co.uk/why-give-blood/demand-for-different-blood-types/ro-blood [Accessed 30 May 2022].
NHS Blood Donation. 2022. The Ro subtype explained. [online] Available at: https://www.blood.co.uk/why-give-blood/demand-for-different-blood-types/the-ro-subtype-explained [Accessed 30 May 2022].
nhs.uk. 2022. Sickle cell disease. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sickle-cell-disease [Accessed 30 May 2022].
NHS Blood Donation. 2022. A very special blood type. [online] Available at: https://www.blood.co.uk/news-and-campaigns/the-donor-magazine-summer-2017/a-very-special-blood-type [Accessed 30 May 2022].
Jukka T. Salonen, Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen, Riitta Salonen, Timo A. Lakka, Kristiina Nyyssonen, Donation of Blood Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction: The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 148, Issue 5, 1 September 1998, Pages 445–451, https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a009669
Yunce, M., Erdamar, H., Bayram, N. and Gok, S. (2016) One more health benefit of blood donation: reduces acute-phase reactants, oxidants and increases antioxidant capacity. Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, Vol. 27 (Issue 6), pp. 653-657. https://doi.org/10.1515/jbcpp-2015-0111
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