Woodford Green woman joins NHS campaign for more blood donors

Florence Kiggundu, 38, of Woodford Green, has been highlighting the importance of blood donors as pa

Florence Kiggundu, 38, of Woodford Green, has been highlighting the importance of blood donors as part of National Blood Week, which ran last week. She required transfusions for four years - Credit: Archant

A woman who relied on the generosity of blood donors for transfusions across a four-year period, has joined the NHS in urging more black people to register.

Florence Kiggundu, 38, of Woodford Green, is raising awareness of the huge difference blood donors make, and the vital need for black people to sign up – in a time of increasing demand, 40,000 more are needed to help save and improve the lives of sickle cell disease sufferers.

The disorder is most common in black people, and can cause severe pain, life-threatening infections, strokes and sight loss.

Florence required transfusions because of complications with her menstrual cycle, and knows just what an important role donors play.

Speaking as part of National Blood Week, which ran last week, she said: “I was struggling with heavy periods for a while and needed regular blood transfusions for around four years.

“I was amazed that people would take the time to give blood so generously to help others. It really is essential for black people to give blood regularly though so people can get the hospital treatment they need.”

While raising awareness of all complications necessitating the use of transfusions, NHS Blood and Transplant, which has launched a new campaign, ‘I’m There’, is particularly keen to impress on communities the severity of sickle cell disease.

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The condition is the most common, and fastest-growing, genetic blood disorder in the UK, with 15,000 people affected.

Although medical advances mean more are living longer, demand for transfusions has rocketed, and patients need blood closely matched to their own (most likely from a donor of the same ethnicity).

Mike Stredder, director of blood donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Approximately 10,000 black people donated blood last year. But we need more. We urgently need 40,000 new black blood donors to help save the lives of patients with sickle cell disease.

“By saying ‘I’m there’, you can save the life of someone else, while going about yours.”

To register or book an appointment, visit blood.co.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or search for the ‘NHS Give Blood’ app.

To support the campaign, use the hashtag #ImThere on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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