Could you become a blood donor?

A BLOOD donor from Montpelier is featured in a national mural as part of a new NHS campaign.

Torkwase Holmes is one of five Black heritage donors honoured in the 20ft work by street artist Dreph at London’s Stockwell Hall of Fame.

The mural was unveiled last month during National Blood Week, in which NHS Blood and Transplant launched an appeal for more donors, particularly those of Black heritage.

While record numbers of people of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage in Bristol are giving blood, more donors are still needed.

The number of regular donors of Black heritage in Bristol reached a record 320 in the year to April while a further 116 gave blood for the first time – also a record. Both figures have doubled since 2017. This year the NHS needs 12,000 new Black heritage donors to meet the growing demand for ethnically matched blood for sickle cell patients who need regular transfusions to stay alive. 

Torkwase, who is 60, said: “The giving of my blood was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done. There is nothing more rewarding than contributing to saving someone’s life, even more so for those in my community suffering with sickle cell and thalassemia.”

Sickle cell is more prevalent in people of Black heritage and blood from a donor of the same ethnicity provides the best treatment. Because the NHS can’t collect enough some patients need to be treated with the universal O Negative blood type. This is clinically safe but can put them at risk of serious complications and makes it even harder in the long term to find blood they can receive.

The new campaign encourages ‘Giving Types’ – people who give in big and little ways, whether that be giving up a seat on a train, for example, or raising money. 

Dr Jo Farrar, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It is fantastic that more people of Black heritage than ever before are saving lives by giving blood. But we urgently need more regular Black heritage donors so that sickle cell patients can receive the best treatment.

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