Norfolk residents urged to give blood as numbers of donors drop
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People in Norfolk are being urged to donate blood which could save lives after it emerged there has been a 40% drop of new volunteers coming forward across England and North Wales.
Regular donations are crucial to saving and improving the lives of patients with cancer, blood disorders, or those undergoing surgery.
There were 2,713 people donating blood for the first time in Norfolk last year, which is fewer than five per 1,000 of the estimated number of people between 17 and 70 living here.
The figures have been published by NHS Blood and Transplant ahead of National Blood Week next week.
Jon Latham, assistant director for donor services and marketing at the organisation, said: 'We simply can't ignore the fact that there has been a stark reduction in the number of new donors coming forward – a trend seen across the world. If we don't attract new people across the country it will put more pressure on the ability to provide the right type of blood the NHS needs for its patients.'
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According to NHS Blood and Transplant, 33 per 1,000 people are active donors in Norfolk and 19,114 people living in the county donated blood at least once last year, saving or improving up to three lives each time they did so.
John Birchall, 60, of Corpusty, has given blood around 15 times in the last 20 years. He said: 'I know people who have needed blood during serious operations and it might happen to me. So the fact that I might be calling upon someone else means I should donate. It's give and take.'
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NHS Blood and Transplant say 204,000 new volunteers need to donate once this year to keep blood stocks at a safe level for the future.
Call 0300 1232323 to find out if you're eligible to donate blood.
Travel and tattoos among the reasons why number of donors has decreased
Busy lives and travel to exotic places are among the reasons the number of blood donors has declined, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.
Jon Latham, of the organisation, said: 'We know that people's lives have got busier over the last decade.
'Travel to more exotic places, tattoos, and investigations such as endoscopy are becoming common and these lead to short-term deferrals.'
An NHS Blood and Transplant survey found there were a range of reasons as to why people didn't want to give blood.
The top three reasons were not getting around to it (27%), a fear of needles (22%), and having health problems so not believing they are eligible to donate (21%) which may not be the case.
Further checks may be needed if you have travelled outside the UK within the last six months, had any piercings or tattoos within the last four months, have seen a dentist within the last week, or had an infection within the last fortnight.
If you are unsure of your eligibility call 0300 1232323.
• Have you benefited from donated blood? Email firstname.lastname@example.org