Ilford man with sickle cell disease backs NHS call for blood donations over festive period

Sickle cell hospital bed

Ilford man who has relied on donors for just over 10 years - Credit: NHS Blood and Transplant

A man with sickle cell disease has backed an NHS call for blood donations over the festive period.

The Ilford resident, who would prefer not remain anonymous, has relied on blood transfusions for 10 years as a result of having the genetic blood disorder which can block blood vessels, creating the risk of life-threatening complications.

He starting having transfusions every four weeks after suffering his third mini-stroke.

With an extra 1,500 units of blood needed every week in the capital, the man explained how the transfusions impact his life: “They make a huge difference. It takes up to two or three days to feel the benefits, but my energy is better, and the pain is a lot easier to deal with – although it doesn’t completely go away."

The only two days that blood donations are not collected are Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, with appointments available on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

Given the potentially challenging winter period still to come, the NHS is imploring people to make (or keep already-made) donation appointments. It is also urging the 13,500-plus people who have recently registered to make their first appointment.

The man's next transfusion is on Christmas Eve at the Macmillan Cancer Centre in University College Hospital. For the musician - who also works with young people - receiving blood is more than just a monthly ritual; it also saved his life.

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"I was once seriously ill and would have died without on-the-spot blood that day. I am forever grateful.  I wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for blood donors."

Jon Latham, assistant director of donor relationship services at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "We know that giving blood can slip off the to-do lists over Christmas and new year. But we need our loyal donors in London more than ever right now so we can keep hospitals supplied with lifesaving blood."

He added that the demand for blood has reached pre-pandemic levels, with the landscape especially challenging due to the ongoing threat of Covid-19.

Appointments can be made at the London Bloomsbury Donor Centre, Edgware Community Hospital, and the London City Mobile Blood Unit at the Bishopsgate Institute.

For further information visit, call 0300 123 23 23 or download the NHS Give Blood app.