Demand for universal blood type O Negative expected to be higher than donations being made during the games
New statistics from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) announced yesterday reveal a gap between demand and supply of blood type O Rh Negative (O Negative) during national celebrations and underline an urgent need for O Negative donors to come forward ahead of the Olympics next month.
The statistics coincide with yesterday's annual World Blood Donor Day (14th June). The theme this year is heroes. NHSBT marked the occasion with a special one-off blood donation session at the Tower of London to appeal to this group of blood donor heroes whilst also collecting blood from some Britain's military heroes, the Beefeaters.
Around the jubilee celebrations demand for type O Negative blood was 69% higher than the number of donations being made, mirroring past public holidays such as Easter (25% higher demand than donations) and Christmas (29% higher demand than donations).
All blood types are needed to build stocks in advance of an exceptionally busy summer, but there is a particular need for O Negative donors to prepare for The Olympics. An estimated 1.2 million people and 15,000 athletes are expected to visit London as part of the Olympic Games, whose blood type may not be known, so should they need a transfusion O Negative blood is likely to be needed. The increased demands on stocks will be compounded by low numbers of donors coming forward in the midst of the disruption and distraction of the celebrations.
Type O Negative blood, often called the universal blood type, can be transfused into any patient regardless of their own blood type and is used in over a tenth (10.5%) of hospital procedures. Increased demand during holiday periods is often due to health services preparing for treatments over holiday periods including accidents, which may require O Negative blood to treat patients quickly when their blood group is not known.
Although O Negative blood is in the highest demand it is also in very limited supply. An estimated 7% of the eligible population (2.38m people) have O Negative blood and just 139,000 of these are donors, a number that has declined 19% in the last ten years. Their contributions are vital for treatments of other blood groups in emergency situations but also to treat others of their own blood type since they can only be transfused with O Negative blood.