The NHS needs 1.6m pints of blood every year – here’s how you can help

Blood donation services across the world have launched an international push for more people to give blood amid falling numbers of new donors.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), the national blood service for England, has teamed up with other donor organisations to call on citizens in 21 countries to help save lives.

Globally, three blood transfusions are given every second, but there has been an almost 30% drop in people becoming blood donors compared to a decade ago.

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Ian Trenholm, chief executive of NHSBT, said: “We’re particularly interested in encouraging more young people and those from black and South Asian communities to come forward to make sure we’ve got a broad range of blood types. It’s not just about how much blood you have got, it’s also about having the right type of blood that can match to individual patients.”

NHSBT needs 1.6 million units (pints) of blood every year to meet patients’ needs in England, but to do this requires 200,000 new donors annually. Donated blood has a life of 35 days, and platelets, which help the blood clot, just seven.


In 2015, 1.1 million people in the UK donated blood – and more than 184,000 of them were first-time donors through the four blood services. In total, those donors helped blood services provide 1.89 million units of blood to hospitals, helping up to 5.7 million people.

Microsoft has joined the Missing Type campaign, which highlights the need for new blood donors by removing the letters “A”, “B” and “O” from company logos.

Microsoft, NHS, blood, logo

In addition to the campaign’s nationally televised adverts, Microsoft is also highlighting the impact of blood donation globally. NHS Blood and Transplant, which collects, tests and processes blood across England and manages organ donation across the UK, also uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud software to improve its efficiency.

It follows a similar, successful campaign last year that included Microsoft, Starbucks, Sky and Honda, while Downing Street dropped the “O” from its sign. Around 30,000 new donors signed up following the push.

A lack of time and fears over giving blood are among the reasons why people don’t donate, but NHSBT has improved its digital services to make the registration and booking process quicker and easier.

Cancer patient Craig Shellard hoped more people would come forward.

“I was diagnosed with cancer and I’ve had a stem cell transplant and blood transfusions. They were life-saving and played an integral part in my recovery.

“Not only do more donors mean more blood, it’s also about the rareness – such as some of the cases I’ve had where I needed specific types of blood. The more people who are available to donate blood, the more chance that those who really need it, like myself, get the right products.”

To sign up to become a blood donor and book an appointment at the nearest donation centre, visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website or download the “Give Blood” app.