Black Britons make vital blood donors
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Some rare blood types are more common in people of black heritage, making blood donations from black Britons vital to the health of society.
The increased demand for some rare subtypes, such as Ro, that are more common in people of black heritage means NHS Blood and Transplant need more black people to sign up for the donation process.
While blood donations from people of all ethnic backgrounds are needed to ensure the right blood is available for everyone, subtypes commonly found in black people are required for individuals that need regular transfusions.
Sickle cell disease sufferers, for instance, require blood that matches their own as closely as possible when receiving transfusions. Around 15,000 people with sickle cell need regular transfusions, without which they can die.
Currently, only six per cent of blood donors in England are BAME. To meet the demand for better-matched blood, 40,000 more black donors are needed.
Aired in 2019 on BBC Radio 4, The Black Blood Donor Crisis explored the myriad of reasons behind the lack of BAME individuals donating blood. Such reasons included more pressing concerns existing for working-class people of colour, a residual distrust of "white institutions", and cultural and religious traditions discouraging members of black and ethnic minority groups from donating their blood or platelets.
With some efforts in place to promote blood donation among BAME groups, often the issue involves a lack of information or education on the matter. More and more young BAME Britons, however, are addressing the reasons mentioned above and are becoming donors.
Reassuringly, blood donation centres across the UK saw the number of black donors increase by 30 per cent last year.
If you are interested in the donation process then please visit the NHS Blood and Transport website for further details.