December’s a busy time in the social calendar. After a few too many nights out and weeks of burning the candle at both ends, you might feel compelled to cancel other engagements. But whatever you do, please don’t cancel your blood donation appointments.
That’s the message NHS Blood and Transplant is sharing this Christmas, as well as a warning that missed appointments could severely hit blood stocks.
Around one in four appointments to give blood were cancelled by donors at too short notice in the week before Christmas last year. Meanwhile one in 10 people simply failed to turn up for their appointment altogether.
NHS Blood and Transplant said a serious drop in donations could affect the supply of blood to the tens of thousands of people in England who will need transfusions over the festive period as treatment for a blood condition or cancer, or due to surgery, childbirth or an accident.
Donors who need to cancel are being asked to give at least three days notice so the slot can be given to someone else.
Permanent donor centres in cities and towns have the best appointment availability. Donors who are unable to find an appointment at their local community venue are being urged to keep checking, as cancellations mean slots can become available at short notice.
Two children who will need blood over the festive period are Henry Alderson and Heidi Ashmore who have the rare condition Diamond Blackfan anaemia. It means they can’t make their own red blood cells and need transfusions every four weeks to keep them alive.
Henry, from Essex, has needed around 40 transfusions since first receiving blood just minutes after he was born. His mum Zoe said: “Henry’s best chance at a long and healthy life is a bone marrow transplant but for now, we rely on blood donors to keep him alive.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who gives blood.”
Existing blood donors are being prioritised for appointments in the run up to and over Christmas, while new donors who have registered but not yet donated are being asked to make an appointment for the new year.
Mike Stredder, director of blood donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Demand for lifesaving blood doesn’t stop for Christmas. But stock levels can drop dramatically if too many donor appointments go missed or unfilled.
“We need our loyal donors more than ever at this time of year, to make sure hospitals have the blood that seriously ill children and adults will need over Christmas and the new year. Each donation can save up to three lives.”