Help us get 200 new donors to sign up

GIVING News reporter Sheanne Mulholland gives blood at St Swithin's Church in Southsea assisted by donor carer Kim Bridle. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (123705-5)
GIVING News reporter Sheanne Mulholland gives blood at St Swithin's Church in Southsea assisted by donor carer Kim Bridle. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123705-5)

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Give one of the most precious gifts you can this Christmas – sign on to the blood donor register and help save lives.

The News is today launching its Give Blood This Christmas campaign.

PLEA John Canning

PLEA John Canning

Working with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which organises blood donor sessions across the country, we want to get 200 new donors in the area to sign the register.

John Canning is NHSBT’s lead donor relations manager for south east Hampshire. He explains why it’s important that young people sign the register this Christmas.

He says: ‘We have got a good, loyal base of blood donors, and I am always indebted to them.

‘The overriding issue is we’re looking for new donors to come forward.

‘We need to make sure we will be getting regular donations in the future.

‘We have seen a decline in new, young donors.’

According to NHSBT, in Portsmouth 2,012 new donors signed up in 2010/2011.

But between 2011/2012, there were only 1,813 new sign-ups.

In Fareham, there were 696 new sign-ups, in 2010/2011, compared to 678, in 2011/2012.

And Gosport also saw a drop in people registering to become blood donors.

In 2010/2011, there were 703 new people taking part, but this dropped to 611, in 2011/2012.

Havant is the only district in the Portsmouth area to see an increase in donor numbers.

Between 2010/2012, the area saw 671 people sign up.

In the following year, this rose slightly to 686.

‘You need 7,000 units of blood a day to satisfy blood and blood product needs,’ adds John.

‘You have a shelf life of 35 days with blood.

‘So this is why we need to keep sending out a constant message to young people to encourage them to register with us.

‘Blood is a living organism, so it needs to be replaced.’

Sessions take place each month across the area.

On page nine opposite there are all the sessions that will be taking place across December.

People can make an appointment, or drop into these venues to find out more about registering.

John says: ‘The sessions are done in such a way, that these stocks are maintained.

‘We encourage all different blood groups to come forward as they are all vital.

‘For instance, O positive is the most common blood group.

‘So it’s important we have plenty of it in stock and it is more likely to be needed.

‘But equally, we need to make sure less common blood types, like O negative are also in stock.

‘We have a good amount of donations in the Solent, but we want to make sure future stocks are well-maintained.

‘Most donors can give three times a year and for men up to four.’

Once blood is donated, it is separated into three parts, which can then be circulated nationally to help a variety of patients.

This includes helping accident victims, pregnant women, and people with blood disorders such as anaemia.

John says: ‘When the blood is collected, it goes back to one of our processing centres.

‘We have a number of these across the country.

‘Here the whole blood is converted into sub-sections such as red cells, platelets and plasma.

‘This can be used to help the needs of different people.

‘The nearest centre to Portsmouth is Filton, in Bristol.

‘After it’s processed, it then goes back out again to various places such as hospitals, such as Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.

‘This can then be used to treat so many different people.

‘Historically there has been the issue that blood stocks fall around Christmas.

‘We know people are now taking time out to spend it with friends and family, and so blood donations see a drop.

‘But contrary to that, blood is still needed over the festive period as surgery still takes place.

‘To register as a blood donor would mean you give the most precious gift this Christmas – the gift of life.

‘Please show some festive spirit and register if you are able to.

‘By registering you would be giving the ultimate gift.

‘If you are interested then please book and appointment and come and see us.’


THERE is some criteria in order to become a blood donor.

Anyone aged between 17 and 65, weighing more than 50kg (7st 12lbs) and in general good health could potentially start saving lives by becoming a blood donor.

There is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the past two years.

People can register in a number of ways:

· They can attend any of the sessions listed on the right hand side and speak to a member of staff.

· People can visit and register online.

· Or to get more information, potential donors can ring the 24-hour helpline number: 0300 1232323.

The News is working with NHS Blood and Transplant to get 200 new blood donors on to the register.

If you are a new donor then The News would like to hear from you.

Once you have successfully registered, then let health reporter Priya Mistry know.

People are asked to give their name, age, address, contact number and the reason for registering to donate blood.

At the end of the campaign, a roll of honour will be printed in the paper.

New donors can email

They can call (023) 9262 2130.

Or write to: Give Blood This Christmas, The News, The News Centre, London Road, Hilsea, Portsmouth, PO2 9SX.


FOR any nervous new donor, here is advice on what to do to prepare yourself for a donation.

The advice has been given by NHS Blood and Transplant, which organisations donor sessions.

It gives the following information:

· Distractions help reduce nervousness so bring an MP3 player, book or a friend along with you to the donation session.

· On the day of donation and the evening before, drink plenty of fluids.

Avoid alcohol as this will considerably affect hydration and delay recovery.

· Regular meals before donating are necessary for maintaining blood sugars and ward off light-headedness.

· A good night’s sleep the evening before is beneficial to wellbeing and recovery.

· Tight clothing around the arms restricts blood flow and can cause bruises, so wear something loose and comfortable.

· Eligibility criteria to donate may vary so know your medical, body piercing and travel history to avoid delays.

The top reasons people are deferred from sessions are they feel unwell, taking a course of antibiotics, dental work, cardiovascular conditions, infection within the past two weeks, being on a hospital waiting list or currently undergoing medical tests, travel, and piercings/tattoos.

‘In 10 minutes I had made a difference for up to three people’ by Sheanne Mulholland

IT ONLY takes 10 minutes to donate the 470ml of blood needed to make a difference to up to three people’s lives.

Yet for some reason, there’s still not enough young people coming forward to donate.

Although NHS Blood and Transplant says it currently collects the 7,000 units of blood required each day, it is worried this might not be the case in the future as the number of young donors continue to drop.

Around 40 per cent of all donors in England and Wales fall into the 17 to 24-year-old bracket, but the number of new donors in that age category has been falling steadily by 20 per cent over the past 10 years.

And this year there has been a 50 per cent drop in 17 and 18-year-olds registering to donate compared to last year.

I have given blood twice before, but at the age of 27 this was not really a figure to be proud of.

So, to do my bit, I registered online to take part in a blood donation session.

It only took a couple of minutes and I could choose from a number of sessions taking place nearby.

I went to a session at St Swithin’s Church, in Waverley Road, Southsea.

It was all very informal and after registering I was asked to fill out a questionnaire while enjoying a large glass of squash.

I have to be honest, the questionnaire, or Donor Health Check form as it’s officially called, was quite probing but it was also reassuring to see how seriously the health of blood donors is taken.

Having completed the questions, I was then taken into a one-on-one health screening with a nurse who talked through my answers in confidence.

She then cleaned my finger with a sterile wipe and pricked it with a lancet. It did sting briefly, but was far from painful.

She used a tiny tube to take a drop of blood from my finger to test my haemoglobin level and ensure I would not become anaemic after donating blood.

We watched the blob of blood sink to the bottom of the blue liquid, the nurse declared me fit to give blood and I was ushered to a medical bed. I lay down as another nurse arranged three test tubes before inserting a needle into my left arm.

Having not given blood for a few years I was a bit apprehensive of that part, but there was nothing to worry about – it simply felt like a small scratch.

She quickly filled the three test tubes then allowed the blood to collect in a pouch while I gently squeezed my hand to help the blood flow faster.

And in a flash it was done.

Within 10 minutes I had donated just under a pint of blood, or 470ml to be exact, and had made a difference to up to three people’s lives.

Where you can give blood

· Tomorrow, Waterlooville Community Centre, Maurepas Way, Waterlooville: 11am to 1.30pm and 3pm to 5.30pm.

· Thursday December 6, Thorngate Halls, Bury Road, Gosport: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Friday, December 7, Wickham Community Centre, Mill Lane, Wickham: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Monday, December 10, Holiday Inn, Cartwright Drive, Titchfield: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Tuesday, December 11, St Swithin’s Church, Waverley Road, Southsea: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Wednesday, December 12, Fratton Park, The Victory Lounge, Fratton Way, Portsmouth, from 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Friday, December 14, Porchester Community Centre, Westlands Grove, Porchester: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Monday, December 17, Holiday Inn, Cartwright Drive, Titchfield: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Wednesday, December 19, Waltham Chase Village Hall, Winchester Road, Waltham Chase: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Thursday, December 20, Petersfield Festival Hall, Heath Road, Petersfield: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Friday, December 21, All Saints Church, Hambledon Road, Denmead: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

· Monday, December 24, Sarisbury Green Community Centre, The Green, Sarisbury Green: 10am to 12.25pm and 1.45pm to 4.15pm.