Every day around 7,000 units of blood is needed to treat patients in Britain’s hospitals. Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, uses around 16,700 units a year.
Each unit is 450ml of blood that has been donated by members of the public.
The red stuff is used on a daily basis in various departments, including the accident and emergency department, neonatal unit and for cancer patients.
Barry Hearn, blood transfusion operational manager at QA, is responsible for running the blood transplant department at the hospital.
Mr Hearn, along with three other senior members of staff, ensure the hospital complies with blood safety regulations.
He says: ‘From NHS Blood and Transplant we get about 16,700 units of red bloods.
‘The plasma portion is taken out and that is frozen.
‘Plasma, which helps the blood to clot, only lasts for a few hours.
‘This is why we need to extract that and freeze it.
‘The remaining 250ml of blood then has a shelf life of 35 days.
‘Adult blood is separated in to six smaller bags and that’s used for babies in the neonatal department.’
‘Blood is needed in most of the departments in the hospital,’ says Mr Hearn.
‘Whether that’s for emergency operations in A&E, to transfusions to cancer patients, whose bone marrow isn’t producing enough red blood cells.’
Blood is stored in a central fridge unit in the transfusion department.
Smaller storage units can be found in different departments where blood is reserved for known patients.
Mr Hearn adds: ‘Some patients need only one to two units of blood.
‘Any serious cases where people have suffered massive blood loss, then up to 40 units can be used.
‘It really depends on the person and the circumstances.
‘But as a hospital, blood is definitely needed.
‘Quite simply, if we didn’t have blood donors then we wouldn’t be able to operate.
‘As well as having stocks for planned surgery and transfusions, we need to make sure we are well-stocked and prepared for any accidents and emergencies.’
The hospital is also delivered emergency supplies by a voluntary group called Serv. Volunteers from the region take it in turns to be on call and in an emergency can transport things like blood and platelets from one location to another.
Mr Hearn says: ‘Serv do a brilliant job and they do it as volunteers.
‘I would like to thank them for their help and to people that donate blood.’
The News ran its Give Blood campaign, which aimed to get 200 new people in the Portsmouth area to register and donate in December.
Readers backed the cause, which was run with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), and final figures show there were 567 new donors.
This surpassed the paper’s target, and exceeded figures for December 2011, where 398 people signed up.
John Canning, lead donor relations manager for NHSBT, says: ‘We are very grateful for The News for the support we have been given.
‘We also have a national campaign, but we need the support of local papers to get the message out. We value new donors very much, especially those between the ages of 17 and 24.
‘We require 225,000 new donors each year to replace existing donors, who are unable to give blood for a number of reasons. That is never going to change.
‘Young people are the life blood of the future, which is why we have to have young people come forward.
‘They will help with blood supplies in the Solent area.
‘We will cherish the boost given to our numbers because of the campaign, but we will always need donors to come forward.’
People can visit blood.co.uk and register online.
Or to get more information, ring the 24-hour helpline 0300 1232323.
‘I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for transfusions...’
COLLAPSING to the floor after suffering from agonising abdominal pain, John Lycett was taken to hospital.
The 61-year-old’s pain was due to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
During his emergency operation at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Mr Lycett needed 10 units of blood.
John, of Mizen Way, Gosport, says: ‘I remember it was about 5.30pm and I was running a bath, by wife was getting ready for a run – it was our usual routine.
‘I went to use the toilet, and when I stood up I felt immense pain near my stomach and collapsed.
‘Luckily I had not been in the bath and my wife hadn’t left, so she came upstairs and found me.’
A paramedic arrived and instantly diagnosed Mr Lycett with AAA and was taken to QA in Cosham, for emergency surgery.
During the five-hour operation, John, who works as a medical laboratory assistant in QA, needed 10 units of blood.
He says: ‘Everything went right for me that night.
‘My wife was still in the house, the paramedic knew exactly what had happened to me, the fire service got me out of the house on a horizontal stretcher and I was blue-lighted to hospital.
‘The units of blood I had transferred were life saving and without a doubt I would not be here if it wasn’t for that.
‘It was just one of those things that happened, and didn’t have any signs apart from small pain the week before.
‘The operation I had was not planned at all – it was an emergency.
‘It took place because there was blood available to be used, and for that I will always be grateful.’
John, who had made a full recovery following the surgery in November 2011, is now urging more people to donate blood and help save lives.
‘For a fit person a pint of blood is nothing,’ he adds.
‘But for someone who needs a transfusion, it can be a matter of life and death.
‘The News’ campaign has been brilliant and has helped get numbers up.
‘I urge people that can give blood to do so.
‘It’s so invaluable and doesn’t take much of your time at all.’
‘I was happy to sign up’
CHARLOTTE Seal leads an active and busy life, which meant she always ruled out having time to donate blood.
But after reading our Give Blood campaign and how donors have help members of her family, she decided to change this.
Charlotte, 27, of North End, Portsmouth, says: ‘Donating blood has always been important to me.
‘A lot of my family have been affected by cancer and have needed blood donations. My paternal grandmother passed away a few years ago due to stomach cancer, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with bone cancer and my mother was diagnosed with mouth and throat cancer.
‘These experiences have helped me to gain a positive attitude, live life to the full and constantly enjoy life’s new experiences. ‘However, this new outlook means I am incredibly busy being a very active mum to my wonderful 16 month old daughter, Lily, and my 13 year old step-daughter Megan.’
Charlotte works part time for Royal Mail, volunteers for sexual abuse charity Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service and is studying for an Open University psychology degree.
She says: ‘Despite limited time on my hands, when I read the article in The News to donate blood I was reminded of why it is so important and the good cause I feel passionately about. I brought along my sister for moral support and arrived at the centre to fill out a donor health check questionnaire.
‘Registering had been very quick and simple and the donor carer had been great at answering all my questions and putting me at ease.
‘I completed a test for anaemia then was given the OK to give blood.
‘My daughter was given a sticker “My mummy gave blood today” which gave me a great feeling of pride to a part of such a worthwhile cause. I hope I will continue to donate blood – my next appointment is already booked.’