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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Blood stocks hit by exotic holidays
Blood units
10,000 units of blood a day are needed in England and north Wales
Tourists heading off to exotic destinations are being urged to give blood before they go to maintain blood stocks.

Strict rules to prevent donated blood being contaminated with disease mean that travellers returning from various tropical countries are banned from giving blood for a year.

Blood service bosses concede that the increasing popularity of long-haul destinations in Asia and Africa are causing a problem.

This is coupled with the normal, seasonal drop in donations because people who would normally give blood are away from home.

Liz Reynolds, director of public and customer services at the National Blood Service, said: "It is vital that we tell people that giving blood should be on their 'to do' list alongside buying sun tan lotion and getting a passport.

"The demand for blood never stops - every day, across England and north Wales, we need to collect 10,000 donations of blood to make sure that all the patients in hospitals get the life-saving treatments they require."

It is vital that we tell people that giving blood should be on their to do list

Liz Reynolds, National Blood Service
An independent survey, carried out by travel agent Thomas Cook revealed that as few as 1% of holidaymakers consider giving blood before going on holiday.

More than half of those surveyed said that, having been made aware of the importance, they would now do it.

While donated blood is treated to remove the cells that could potentially harbour HIV infection, there are several other common tropical infections, such as malaria, which could potentially be passed on through infected blood.

Dangerous infection

The year's delay before a donor can give again provides ample opportunity for any dangerous infection to show itself.

Manny Fontenla-Novoa, Thomas Cook's managing director, said: "With so many people travelling, and with so many more people visiting exotic locations such as Africa and the far east, it is important to remind holidaymakers to think about giving blood before their summer break."

The National Donor Helpline has details of the locations and times of various blood donor sessions around the country. Its number is 0845 7711711.

Donors should be aged between 17 and 60, in general good health and weigh more than 50kgs.

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08 Apr 99 | Medical notes
Blood: The risks of infection
20 Oct 00 | Medical notes
Ebola and other tropical viruses
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