How easy is it to donate blood in Medway?

In celebration of National Blood Week 2019 Elena Keeling speaks to a Medway voice to find out how giving blood gives back to them and what more can be done to help save more lives..

To celebrate National Blood Week 2019 from the 10-16 June, NHS Blood and Transplant have highlighted how they need 400 new blood donors every single day to be able to sustain. 

The number of blood donations are on the rise here in Medway. However, new figures released by NHS England at the start of this year declared that twice as many women than men had signed up in 2018 to be blood donors. Which poses the question of what more can be done to help these numbers keep rising in order to aid the ever-growing population’s need for blood.

50-year-old David Bowness from Chatham in Kent, spurred by his dad being a donor has been registered since 1995, yet has faced difficulties in donating: “Well in the old days, it used to be you made an appointment at the point that you gave blood for the next session.”

“Nowadays you have an account online and you can book whenever you want for where ever you want for whatever time you want, but you can hardly ever get appointments as everywhere is always full up.” 

In the South East last year, 82,671 people registered to become donors, however only 25,224 of them actually gave blood. The blame factor on why this could be falls largely on the wait times that people are held too. Being a Medway citizen myself who is signed up to give blood and with my next available appointment at my nearest venue being in September, it is certainly disheartening. 

Trying to give blood in Medway seems to be no easy task, with the registration process being less simple than one would make out as there are many limitations to stop people from giving blood such as recent tattoos, medication and weight restrictions. 

With around 135,000 new donors needed each year to make sure there is enough different types of blood groups to treat everyone and 5,000 donations needed each day, there is always a need for blood. Yet, aside from not being able to book appointments, David also thinks there are other reasons for Medway’s people’s discontentment. 

“I think it’s a question of it’s your time and at the end of the day. Someone is going to stick a needle in you and it’s the inconvenience I guess for most people. Although, (on there being downsides to giving blood) if you give blood, I don’t think there are.”

Therefore, you could ask, why do people like David choose to give blood year on year? 

“It’s a sense of possibly saving someone’s life that’s possibly the same blood type as you. If they’ve had an accident, then it’s there banked ready for them to use. Bearing in mind my blood group is A recess negative with only 8% of the population can take my blood, so it’s pretty rare.”

The car enthusiast continues, “I’ve recently started to hear about where my blood has gone. I’ve only had three messages with feedback from the blood donation service, one went to Cambridge hospital, one went to Norwich hospital and the last one went to a London hospital. They don’t say what they do with it, but you just know that you are doing someone some good.” 

With blood donations on the rise, we should expect to see an increase with every year as more and more people are now aware of the importance giving their blood. However, it comes down to Medway’s time and patience in order to keep these figures rising, if everyone gave blood who could, it would make a big difference. 

This simple act would save lives and all you have to do is turn up and have a cup of tea and give your blood. 

Elena Keeling is a 2nd year student journalist at Canterbury Christ Church University. She has a passion for music and all things political. She writes for unified.com, and works with CSRfm and Hospital Radio Medway.

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