In June 2017 the National Health Trust (NHS) in the UK, put out an urgent call for blood donors from black and ethnic backgrounds. It is no secret that this demographic of the population is underrepresented, when it comes to blood donation. Yet, this the demographic of the population that are most likely to need a blood transfusion. The latter is due to a high percent of the black and ethnic population who suffer from the hereditary blood disorder, Sickle Cell Anaemia.
It was reported that 40,000 more donors from this demographic are needed by the NHS, to meet the demand for the common blood type Ro found in ethnic individuals. It has been reported that a majority of the blood transfusions carried out by the NHS, for black and ethnic minority patients are for Sickle Cell sufferers. The NHS Blood and Transplant organisation also put out a call in 2015, asking black and ethnic minorities ‘to be there for their community’ as organ donors. CTM would like to reach out to the black and ethnic community, and encourage those who are non-Sickle Cell sufferers to donate blood as well as organs and be there for the community.
What is Sickle Cell?:
Sickle Cell is a common hereditary blood disorder found within the African and Caribbean community. It is the most common hereditary disorder in the USA, with 70,000- 80,000 sufferers according to The Sickle Cell Fund Inc . Normal red blood cells in a non-sufferer are round, in someone with Sickle Cell they are half-moon shaped. Extreme exposure to hot or cold temperatures, lack of hydration, stress, even pregnancy can cause the half-moon shaped cells to thicken and clot. This tends to happen in the joints, ribs, legs, hands, arms. Individuals also experience difficulty with breathing. Leaving the sufferer in extreme pain, known as a crisis. When a crisis strikes it can vary from sufferer to sufferer. Some may need a pain relief and recover soon and well, some are hospitalised for long periods and need blood transfusions. Some, can sadly die. Sickle Cell is unpredictable and no two patients are the same, and no two experiences of a crisis for a sufferer are the same. Each case and each crisis is an individual. Every day that a sufferer is pain free and healthy, is a blessing as a crisis may strike at any time, and can be frequent. Sufferers also have trouble producing white cells, which fight off infection. For more in depth reading see the NHS website. Sickle Cell can also be combined with Anaemia. Within other ethnic groups, some suffer from a similar disorder called Thalassaemia. Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia are common within African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, eastern European and Asian communities.
Common Myths About Giving Blood:
- Being a vegetarian, means that the blood does not have enough iron and cannot be donated.
Vegetarians can donate blood. The iron needed is taken from body stores and once a balanced diet is maintained is replaced after donation. This usually normally takes a month or so.
- Giving blood is time consuming.
The time taken for a single donation session is normally not more than an hour or so.
- Age is a deterrent to blood donation.
Anyone up to the age of 60 who is fit and healthy can give blood.
For more facts see the bloodconnect.org
How You Can Help:
If you are a fit and healthy person, and a non-sufferer from a black or ethnic background, please be there for your community. Sufferers within the community need you. More now than ever with the recent statistics reported in the UK. Blood donation and organ donation from the black and ethnic demographic of the population are on the decline, more is needed. If you wish to be there for your community visit the NHS Blood and Transplant Service or call 0300 123 23 23.