14th June was World Blood Donor Day, but what is it all about? It is a day marked in calendars worldwide to raise awareness of the need for safe collection and use of blood and blood products, as well as to say thank you to donors across the world.
Blood is a vital resource, both for planned treatments and emergency interventions and we use it every day in our hospitals. It is used in emergency traumas and accidents, lifesaving roles in childbirth, surgeries, as well as for a huge range of conditions such as cancers and blood disorders. On our neonatal unit, just 10mls (a couple of teaspoons!) of blood can be used to treat anaemia in our premature babies. Sadly not all the patients can be treated due to low supplies, especially in certain blood groups – so please help if you are able.
There are 8 main blood types, and you can receive blood from the same blood type or one that is compatible with yours. This is the distribution of blood types in the UK:
- O positive: 35%
- O negative: 13%
- A positive: 30%
- A negative: 8%
- B positive: 8%
- B negative: 2%
- AB positive: 2%
- AB negative: 1%
Some blood types are higher in demand than others. If, like me, you have a less common and less in demand type, there may be a longer wait for a blood giving slot. In contrast, my partner is always able to book a slot as he is O negative – the universal donor type. This means his blood can be given to everyone and is therefore very useful to have on standby in the hospitals for emergencies.We sometimes call it ‘flying squad blood’!