NHS Blood and Transplant is urging Black Londoners to donate blood as part of a drive to combat sickle cell disease.
The fastest-growing genetic order in the UK, sickle cell disease currently affects around 15,000 Britons and is particularly common in people of African or Caribbean descent. Those with the disease have misshapen red blood cells, which can cause organ failure, stroke or loss of vision. It can be fatal.
Black donors are needed for blood donations that provide the best possible match for those with sickle cell needing transfusion treatment. Only 2% of current donors have Ro type blood, the sub-group most needed by Black sickle cell patients, and Ro blood is ten times more common in Black people than in white people.
Sickle cell disease took the spotlight recently with the case of 19-year-old Richard Okoroghey, who went missing in March after leaving his Ladbroke Grove home without had sickle cell medication.
July is Sickle Cell Awareness month in the UK, so there’s a drive to increase the number of active Black donors. The aim is to reach 1300 donors every month, so get down to your local donation centre!
You can register to give blood here and there are three permanent blood donation centres in London in the West End, Edgware and Tooting. Alternatively, there are thousands of pop-up donation hubs to be found on the NHS GiveBlood website.