A new centre for blood donors has been set up at Westfield London in White City to meet the transfusion needs of those with conditions such as sickle cell disease.
There is a shortage of donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds – and it is their blood that is most urgently needed.
First-time and regular blood donors are being urged to make appointments which opened on Monday (22 February) at the Westfield shopping centre.
It is on the first floor, between M&S and The Village, and has six full-time donor beds. The new centre can cope with up to 170 appointments a day.
More local donors needed
There are already many loyal donors in the Shepherds Bush area, but more are required. “By placing our new donor centre in Westfield, we hope to collect even more lifesaving donations,” said Daniel Clarke from NHS Blood & Transplant.
The new centre is the 24th permanent donor centre in England, and the first in west London. It has been designed with extra safety measures including distancing and additional deep-cleaning to ensure it is coronavirus-safe.
“It’s important to continue to give blood during the pandemic; it’s a positive act we can still perform that makes a big contribution,” added Daniel.
To meet demand, the new Westfield centre needs to collect more than 19,400 donations a year, with each donor having the potential to save up to three lives each time they donate.
BAME donors needed
The most pressing need is for donors from BAME backgrounds whose blood is needed for those with sickle cell disease and thalassemia. The most effective transfusions use blood from donors of a similar ethnic background.
Postgrad student Mary Adeturinmo, an ‘outreach ambassador’ for the blood transfusion service, has sickle cell disease and receives up to 10 units of blood a month to manage her condition.
Her health challenges include regular hospital admissions, chronic pain and three bouts of eye surgery because of the disease.
“I’ve been undergoing blood exchange for five years. It relieves major sickle cell crises and helps me maintain my normal life,” she said. “Recently I became unable to walk. I had the treatment, and it gave me back my mobility.”
People from all communities and ethnic backgrounds are needed at the new Westfield centre. Currently just under six per cent of all active donors are from BAME backgrounds.
How to book an appointment
You can book an appointment to give blood at Westfield by calling 0300 123 23 23 or by visiting the NHS Blood Donation website.
There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB – it’s O negative (the universal blood group) and B negative that are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls.
Black donors are most urgently needed as they are more likely to have the blood type needed to treat the increasing number of sickle cell patients.
Want to read more news stories like this? Subscribe to our weekly e-news bulletin.