Ethnic minorities NHS critical need to give blood

Hannah: first time blood donor

We need donors from all communities and ethnic backgrounds to donate blood so we can meet the needs of all patients in England now and in the years to come. Black, Asian and minority ethnic donors are specifically needed right now because:

  • some patients who receive frequent blood transfusions need blood to be closely matched to their own
  • a number of blood conditions, like sickle cell disease which is treated through blood transfusions, most commonly affect black, Asian and minority ethnic people
  • the best match typically comes from blood donors from the same ethnic background.

Shaylah, who has sickle cell disease

Read about Shaylah who needs blood transfusions every three weeks to treat the painful inherited blood disorder, sickle cell disease.

Blood conditions and blood groups

Thalassaemia and sickle cell disease are blood conditions that most commonly affect people within the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The treatment of these conditions is much more successful using blood that is very closely matched to the patient’s.

Thalassaemia and sickle cell

Thalassaemia mainly affects people with a South Asian or Mediterranean heritage, and sickle cell disease mainly affects people from the black community.

It is estimated that 1,000 people in the UK have thalassaemia, and between 13,000-15,000 people in the UK have sickle cell disease.

Patients with these disorders need regular blood transfusions to stay alive. They benefit from donations from blood donors from a similar ethnic background. More about theneed for black donors.

If you have the sickle cell trait you can still become a blood donor. There’s more information about thalassaemia and sickle cell disease on NHS Choices.

Some blood groups such as O Rh positive and B Rh positive are more prevalent among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Some rare blood types are only found within the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Become a blood donor, book an appointmentnear you and give blood.

Giving blood

While people from all communities and backgrounds do give blood, fewer than 5% of our blood donors who gave blood in the last year were from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

This is despite black, Asian and minority ethnic communities representing around 14% of the population. We want to try and readdress this balance.

Register to be a blood donor and give blood. Find out how donated blood changes lives.

We also need more organ and bone marrow donors from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

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