A Bristol blood donor is featured in a national mural to celebrate donors of Black heritage as part of a major new NHS campaign appealing for more people from the Black community to give blood.
Torkwase Holmes is one of five Black heritage donors from across England honoured for their commitment to saving lives by having their likeness captured in the striking mural in London’s Stockwell Hall of Fame.
It comes as NHS Blood and Transplant reveals that more people than ever before of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage in Bristol are saving lives by giving blood.
The number of regular donors of Black heritage in Bristol reached an all-time high of almost 320 in the year to April while a further 116 gave blood for the first time – also a record. Both figures have doubled since 2017 when the NHS began appealing for Black heritage donors.
Nationally people of Black heritage are also giving blood in record numbers, however, the shortage remains critical. This year the NHS needs 12,000 new Black heritage donors to meet the growing demand for ethnically matched blood for sickle cell patients who need regular transfusions to stay alive.
This week as part of National Blood Week, NHS Blood and Transplant is rolling out a major new campaign celebrating donors and appealing for new donors to join the team of ‘Giving Types’, particularly those of Black heritage.
And to launch the campaign the 20ft high mural featuring Torkwase was created by renowned British street artist Dreph.
“The giving of my blood was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done. There is nothing more rewarding than contributing to saving someone’s life, even more so for those in my community suffering with sickle cell and thalassemia.”Torkwase Holmes
Sickle cell is more prevalent in people of Black heritage and blood from a donor of the same ethnicity provides the best treatment. Because the NHS can’t collect enough some patients need to be treated with the universal O Negative blood type. This is clinically safe but can put them at risk of serious complications and makes it even harder in the long term to find blood they can receive.
The new campaign encourages ‘Giving Types’ – people who give in big and little ways, whether that be giving up a seat on a train, for example, or raising money for charity – to consider becoming a blood donor.
Dr Jo Farrar, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It is fantastic that more people of Black heritage than ever before are saving lives by giving blood. But we urgently need more regular Black heritage donors so that sickle cell patients can receive the best treatment.
“This National Blood Week, please join our amazing team of ‘Giving Types’. Giving blood is safe and easy and in just one hour you can save up to three lives. Our permanent donor centres in towns and cities are great places for your first donation.”
This year the NHS needs 140,000 new blood donors to grow and diversify the base of donors so blood and blood products can continue to be supplied to hospitals. Around 9,000 new plasma donors are also needed.
Blood donation can now save even more lives because the plasma can be recovered from the blood and made into a medicine which treats more than 50 disorders such as Kawasaki disease and myasthenia gravis.
Become a blood donor and book your first appointment via the GiveBloodNHS app or at www.blood.co.uk. If you can’t find an appointment straight away please book for further in the future. Your blood will still help to save lives then.