Wales

Christmas appeal for more people to donate blood

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Media captionDonating Blood at Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving, and this year the Welsh Blood Service is hoping the festive spirit will lead to more donations.

The service supplies blood to 19 hospitals across Wales, providing about 450 units per day.

This year, the service was hit early on by severe snow and storms which meant that stocks were low.

But going into Christmas, stocks are healthy thanks to donors across Wales.

Phillipa Blackford, a blood nurse with the service, has been helping in donor sessions for several years.

"It is difficult to get people to come and donate over Christmas because everyone is very busy," she said.

"We have reduced opportunity for sessions over Christmas too because of bank holidays but we do need people to come and donate if they can."

Almost 10% fewer donors attended a Welsh Blood Service clinic last December than in other months of the year.

There has also been a wider call for younger people to start donating.

"It's always really important for people to come and donate blood," Ms Blackford added.

Donating blood: The facts

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Image caption Stocks are healthy this Christmas after a turbulent start to the year
  • Anyone aged between 17 and 66, who weighs over 50kg (7st 12lb) can donate, but there are height and weight restrictions for females under 20
  • There is no upper age limit for those who have donated in the last two years
  • Blood is not just used for accidents and emergencies - cancer and leukaemia patients need regular transfusions
  • People donate roughly three quarters of a pint
  • Blood's short shelf life means stocks have to be replenished on a daily basis
  • There are four blood groups - O Positive is the most common blood group in Wales
  • All donations are tested for HIV, hepatitis B, C and E, Human T Lymphotropic virus and syphilis

"We need to collect on average 450 units a week, and we collect 100,000 donations per year to be issued to our hospitals across Wales for our patients.

"While we have to close the doors of our donation clinics on certain days over Christmas, hospitals in Wales are always open so the need for blood remains."

She added that most first time donors are concerned about the pain.

"I think they mostly worry about if it's going to hurt and how they will feel afterwards, but it's relatively painless, it's a very quick process, the staff are very well trained and competent in what they do," she said.

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