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04 December 2018

Festive news: Scotland needs 470 donors every day


The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service needs 470 people to give blood every day during December.

And with Christmas day falling on what is traditionally one of the strongest collection days of the week, we are asking donors to ensure they know their blood group and come forward now so that stocks continue to build in the run up to the festive season.

Lynne Willdigg, Associate Director of Donor Services, SNBTS, says:

'There are eight different blood groups, and we aim to maintain a five to seven day supply at all times of each one. Our focus as a Service is to ensure that we consistently meet clinical demand and to this end we work closely with hospitals to forecast that demand. This means that we can provide donors with a greater level of detail about how their donation is needed. For example, O Positive is Scotland’s most common blood group, so we must welcome 191 people with this blood group every day. O Negative on the other hand is the only blood group that can safely be given to anyone in an emergency situation, therefore, requires proportionately a higher level of donation to the population profile. This means that every day we require at least 71 donors of this universal blood group to ensure A&E wards can operate safely.

To keep supplies at safe levels in Scotland, we need 470 donors each day Lynne Willdigg

'To keep supplies at safe levels overall in Scotland, we need 470 donors each day and all blood groups are needed to support patients, just some more than others depending on demand. We publish this information on our website and we hope this will help donors realise how important their blood group and blood donation actually is. Our research shows 38% of the population overall say they know their blood group. However, this rises to 61% within the population who are blood donors. We are asking donors to check their blood group, and make an extra special effort to attend if we write to you or text you. If you’ve never given blood, please come along and donate, and we’ll write to you afterwards to let you know what your blood group is.

'As Christmas Day is a Tuesday this year which is traditionally one of our strongest collection days, we are asking donors to come forward now to ensure stocks continue to build in the run up to the public holiday. This will ensure we can keep NHSScotland well supplied.

'We would also love to welcome new donors. 47% of active donors in Scotland are age 45 or over, so it is important younger people start giving blood to meet the needs of our aging population. As you can start giving blood at age 17, we are reaching out to all younger people to encourage them to think about giving blood now.'

Jemma's story

Supporting SNBTS’ Festive campaign is Glasgow University student Jemma, 23, whose own story highlights the importance of giving your Festive Donation.

Jemma stands wearing a Give Blood t-shirt while holding a boxed Christmas present wrapped in O negative wrapping paper.
Jemma needed plasma donations to kick start her nervous system

Jemma says, 'It was my first day back at my final year of university and I was used to being healthy, active and enthusiastic. However, I noticed I had extremely swollen legs and pain in my feet. After seeing a consultant, I was referred to the neurology unit and was diagnosed with axonal nerve damage. I experienced a growing paralysis which started in my feet, ascending to my chest and arms. During a long six month stay in hospital, I received plasma to kick start my nervous system. It was the start of my recovery and enabled me to learn to walk, write and move freely again. I can now live the normal life of a 23 year old, and I always smile about how far I have come in a year. I don’t think people know the difference giving blood makes and how it can be used for a variety of treatments. I was very fortunate to have received a plasma exchange, and without it I am not so sure where I would be today.'

Rod sits and smiles while wearing a Give Blood t-shirt.
Rod needed 10 pints of blood after his stomach ulcer burst.

Rod's story

Rod, 40, from Hatton, Aberdeenshire, highlights the importance of giving your Festive Donation.

Rod says, 'I am blood group O+ and used to give blood every few months – indeed, I gave many donations. However, little did I know that there would come a day when I would need blood myself. At the time, I was a fit and healthy 35 year old. I exercised regularly and enjoyed hill walking. I was at work one day in January 2013, but felt so awful I had to go home and suddenly I started vomiting blood. I was somehow able to call 999 and was rushed to A&E where I immediately received at least 10 pints of blood as well as platelets and plasma. The pains I’d been having in my stomach turned out to be a stomach ulcer which had burrowed its way into a major artery and then burst, resulting in my stomach being filled with blood. I spent the next few days in hospital and, after that, some time recuperating before I felt well enough to return to work. I was given the complete all clear two months later. Without these anonymous angels, who take an hour out of their day to donate, I might not have survived.'

  • Anyone over the age of 17 in general good health and weighing more than 7st 12lbs, could potentially become a blood donor and help to save lives.
  • To register as a blood donor or to find out where your nearest donation session is, call 0345 90 90 999

Current blood stock levels across Scotland Saturday 20 August

We aim to retain 6 days of stocks at any time in order to meet the requirements of patients in Scotland.

Learn more about blood types