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Urgent appeal for blood donations as virus hits supplies

HEALTH officials have appealed for more people to give blood after donations fell by 15 per cent amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said that donations had slumped over the last week, but that the impact had been mitigated by the cancellation of a number of pre-planned procedures.

Nonetheless, it urged donors to keep their appointments, adding that extra safety measures are in place at donation centres.

Every day, NHSBT needs to collect 5,000 units of blood to ensure the smooth running of the service, but the number of donations collected last week was 15 per cent lower than expected.

NHSBT chief medical officer Dr Gail Miflin said: “We can assure people that blood donation sessions are still going ahead. If you are fit and healthy, travelling to donate blood is essential for the NHS and seriously ill patients.

“Blood donation saves lives and we will need our donors more than ever over the new few weeks and months.

“Combating the virus will take a huge national effort. Donation is something you can do to help the NHS. It’s a reason to go outside and do something amazing.”

Despite the pleas for blood donations across Britain, many gay and bisexual men remain unable to give blood. 

At present, men who have sex with other men must wait three months after having oral or anal sex with another man before donating.

Leading LGBT charity Stonewall reiterated its belief that men in these categories are not “high risk” and that laws should be changed as a result. 

Stonewall head of policy Josh Bradlow said: “It is untrue that every gay and bi man is a high-risk donor, and we know that it is frustrating for gay and bi men that this is still thought to be the case. 

“That’s why we’re calling for a system to be introduced that is based on individualised risk assessment of blood donors, rather than the restriction of an entire group. 

“Stonewall is working with the government, NHSBT and other charities … to help create a fair and safe system.”


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