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Friday, 29 December, 2000, 12:37 GMT
Renewed appeal over blood donations
Blood donor
Donors traditionally stay away at Christmas
Blood donors have been urged to make an extra effort to help avert a crisis in supplies in Scotland.

A festive drop in supply, coupled with the usual levels of demand and strict new testing procedures, have all had an adverse effect on the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.

Although the service needs to collect 1000 pints a day in Scotland, only 5% of the population regularly gives blood.

Now the Blood Transfusion Service has urged every Scot to donate three times in 2001 to meet the ever increasing demand.

Fewer and fewer people are actually eligible to give blood

Moira Eadie, campaign director
The needs of one patient can often place a huge strain on existing blood stocks.

Last year, Neil Burt, 38, suffered horrendous injuries in a motor bike accident near his home in Fife

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that he needed 40 pints of blood after his accident and another 100 in the days that followed.

Professionals in the transfusion service said new factors were also endangering supply.

Dr. Rachel Green, Clinical Director with the Blood Transfusion Service in the West of Scotland said tougher tests were needed to detect infections like HIV and CJD.

International travel

But she added: "Fewer and fewer donors pass these tests and are allowed to donate."

Moira Eadie, Campaign Director with the Blood Transfusion Service in Scotland, said body art and international travel pose other problems.

"There are a lot of people nowadays who travel a lot more than they did many years ago," she said.

Blood bag
Some hospitals have just two days' supply left
"That means often we can't accept them if they've been in areas with malaria.

"Potential donors also have more body piercings, more tattoos.

"This means that fewer and fewer people are actually eligible to give blood."

The problems are so acute that some hospitals have just two days' worth of supplies left.

Now the transfusion service has launched a drive to boost donations in 2001.

The campaign, called The Three Times Promise, urges every eligible Scot to donate three pints of blood next year.

Donor session

It hopes to encourage an extra 17,000 donations.

Annually, patients in Scotland use in the region of 250,000 units of blood.

Anyone between the age of 17 and 70 (60, for first time donors), and weighing more than 7st 12lbs can give blood.

Details of donor sessions around the country can be found on 0845 9090999.

Health correspondent Samantha Poling
"Many donors are now being turned away"
See also:

27 Dec 00 | Health
Blood donor plea as stocks dip
04 Dec 00 | Health
NHS crisis 'here already'
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