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NHS HIGHLAND: How your festive blood donation could save someone’s life

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Statistics make clear the difference a modest number of new donors could have for the Highlands, says our columnist.
Statistics make clear the difference a modest number of new donors could have for the Highlands, says our columnist.

Blood donors can and do save lives – and it only takes an hour to make a huge difference to someone’s life.

Every donation can be split into three separate parts – plasma, platelets, and red cells. This means that every precious donation can potentially save or improve the lives of up to three people.

In Inverness our Blood Donor Centre, based at Raigmore Hospital and open every Monday, Thursday and Friday, has 3283 active blood donors. We would love to welcome more people along. The centre currently needs to welcome 145 donors a week to help support Scotland’s patients.

Patients like 29-year-old Stacey Ross who has received multiple transfusions since she was a small child after she was born with a hole in her heart, and her heart facing the wrong way round.

Her first surgery was when she was just five days old and she has had various surgeries since and, throughout her life, has had to rely on countless blood transfusions to help support her through all of those surgeries.

Dr Sylvia Armstrong-Fisher.
Dr Sylvia Armstrong-Fisher.

Of the 3283 active donors currently registered at Inverness Blood Donor Centre, only 398 have O- blood. Group O- blood can be given to almost anyone, making it an extremely valuable resource for emergencies where blood is needed immediately. This universal quality means additional stocks of O- are needed to provide standby cover.

You can find out lots more about blood types and blood stocks at www.scotblood.co.uk

If you’ve never given blood before, it is a simple process. Before giving blood, book your appointment and check you have had plenty to eat and drink. When you come along, we’ll go through the questionnaire that ensures you are able to donate, and take a small fingerprick test to check your iron levels. Giving your donation itself only takes about 10 minutes, then it is time for juice and biscuits!

In the run up to Christmas, with school plays, shopping and nights out, donations can decrease by up to 20 per cent. We need more Highlanders to come forward and give your festive donation – both new donors and those of you who might not have donated in a while. Appointment slots are open now until early January. Inverness Donor Centre is open on Boxing Day and January 2.

Kevin Douglas giving blood. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Kevin Douglas giving blood. Picture: James Mackenzie.

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Inverness has a population of over 46,500 people. If just one per cent decided to sign up as a blood donor tomorrow, that would be 465 brand new blood donors. What a difference they could make.

As well as our fixed site at Inverness Blood Donor Centre, people can give blood at a range of community sessions across the Highlands. And if you want to give blood this Christmas, we already have a number of sessions lined up for December

You can search for more sessions online and book your appointment at www.scotblood.co.uk. You can also phone to book on 0345 90 90 999 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).

My message to anyone reading this who has never given blood before or hasn’t been along in a while, would be to please just book an appointment to go along and give blood, it’s so easy to do and makes such a massive difference.

If you’ve never given blood before or haven’t given in a while, the team would love to welcome you.

Dr Sylvia Armstrong Fisher is head of territory at Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS).

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