Tuesday, January 5, 1999 Published at 10:41 GMT
Appeal for blood donors to beat winter shortage
More donors are needed at this peak time of year
A campaign has been launched to tackle the winter low in blood supplies.
As emergency health needs increase during the winter, blood banks run extremely low, according to the National Blood Service.
The problem is compounded by regular donors being struck down by colds and 'flu and thus being unable to turn up to donor sessions.
As a result, the service launched a £1m campaign on Tuesday to encourage new donors to come forward.
It has support from well-known figures such as the actor Sean Bean and Wimbledon FC and Scotland goalkeeper Neil Sullivan.
Lords Health Minister Baroness Hayman is also supporting the recruitment drive.
She said: "Every day 10,000 units of blood are needed by hospitals in England and Wales. Recruiting new blood donors - and encouraging repeat donations - is crucial to the work of the NHS."
The government drive to cut waiting lists is adding an extra strain to the nation's blood supplies.
A spokeswoman for the National Blood Service said: "The demand for blood is going up all the time.
"There are more people being treated in hospital and with the government's waiting list initiative the pressure on blood supplies is getting even greater."
She said winter was a particularly difficult time for the service as it was.
"A lot of people are ill with 'flu and bad weather means people can't always get out to a blood donor session, so we need to get as many people as possible to come to one of our sessions and give us a pint."
The campaign will involve advertisements that compare the "lifesaving act of giving blood" with everyday activities.
He met two patients who benefit from the activities of the National Blood Service - Lamech, aged eight, and Emma, aged seven. Lamech has a rare kidney disorder and has needed more than 20 operations.
Emma has a rare form of anaemia and needs regular blood transfusions while she waits for a bone marrow transplant.
Anyone aged between 17 and 60 who is generally fit can become a blood donor. At present, five to six per cent of the eligible population do so.
For details of how to become a blood donor, call 0345 711 711.