THE NHS has thanked generous donors from across the area for giving blood and helping save lives during the festive period.
Committed donors went out of their way to donate blood before Christmas and helped keep stocks across all blood groups strong during a time of year when supplies normally drop.
The NHS Blood and Transplant Service even collected a record amount of O negative blood on December 22 – the highest number collected in a single day since 2000.
This blood group is particularly special as it’s a universal blood type and can be given safely in emergencies to patients of any blood group.
Jon Latham, the assistant director of blood donation, said: ‘The demand for blood is fairly static all year round but at certain times, it’s more difficult to collect.
‘When it was the World Cup we found fewer people were going to donor sessions, and then with Christmas there’s always a worry stocks will drop – especially this year as there were bank holidays and we also had bad weather which made it difficult for people to get out to donate. People were also ill with the flu so couldn’t donate even if they wanted to.
‘But thanks to the generosity and commitment of donors we were ok.’
He added: ‘We also had record numbers of O negative donations. This is really important because normally you match the blood types but if it’s an emergency and there’s little time, you can just use O negative.
‘I would like to thank all our blood and platelet donors across Portsmouth and Hampshire for making a special effort to give blood during the severe winter weather and over the festive period.’
Now the NHS is asking people to help them prepare for the next expected dip in blood stocks – the Royal wedding and Easter period.
Mr Latham said: ‘Our next difficult period will be around April with the Royal wedding. People might be away or not able to donate.
‘We need to get stocks up before the shortage so we would urge people to give blood in March if they’re not going to be able to in April.’
Last month, there were 65,681 residents in Portsmouth and Hampshire on the NHS’s blood donor records.
To become a donor you need to be aged between 17 and 65, weigh at least 7st 12lbs and be in general good health. To find a donation session near you call 0300 123 23 23 or visit blood.co.uk.