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Mike's Ilford Recorder Column (19/05/2016)

I'm now back at work full time. During my two months in hospital after major heart surgery I received several life saving blood transfusions.

Last week I attended a special presentation to MPs about the vital work of our NHS Blood and Transplant Service. Two million units of blood are supplied to English hospitals each year to use in surgery, to treat blood loss after childbirth, or to help people with genetic blood disorders.

Some blood disorders like Sickle cell disease and thalassaemia mainly affect people from Black and South Asian communities. These patients need blood which is a close match to their own, donated by people from a similar ethnic background. Some rare blood groups are more prevalent in some ethnic communities than others.

It is important that blood donors come from ethnically diverse backgrounds too. Every unit of blood donated can help to save up to three lives. Last year 3,300 people had life saving organ transplants thanks to the generosity of deceased donors and their families. But 6,900 individuals are waiting for a potential life saving transplant. Both blood and tissue types need to match for a successful transplant.

Lack of suitable organ donors means patients from black and South Asian communities can wait a year longer for a kidney transplant than a white patient. Half a million people die every year but only 5,000 die in circumstances where organ donation is possible so every potential donor is incredibly precious.

It is vital more people join the organ donor register, and tell their friends and family that they want to be an organ donor after their death. It’s quick and easy to register as a blood donor and join the organ donor register. Just call 0300 123 23 23 or visit blood.co.uk and organdonation.nhs.uk.

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