Donors urged to give blood during coronavirus crisis

Extra safety measures have been introduced to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Scotland’s blood supplies are in reasonable shape but donors are being urged to keep up the good work during the coronavirus crisis.

Lynn Willdigg of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) last week said that “an extra special effort” was needed due to 20% drop in donations.

However, while the streets have been strangely quiet since lockdown began this week, the Glasgow city centre blood bank is as busy as ever.

Staff have seen a rise in the numbers of new volunteers while many regulars have answered the plea for help.

One of those was Heather Daniel, from Kelvindale, Glasgow, who has given around 50 pints of blood over the years.

After donating on Wednesday, she told STV News: “I got a usual call back letter asking to give a pint of blood and I felt it was really important just now because we’re all in lockdown and not as many people will be giving it.”

Blood is used for patients with serious conditions including anaemia, cancer and blood disorders and is also used during operations and to replenish blood loss after childbirth.

The call for blood prompted Derek Yule to attend the Glasgow centre — seven years after his last visit.

He said: “I saw there had been a shortage of donations so by dint of conscience, I decided to come and give blood. It was very painless and very quick, I was out in about half an hour. I would encourage everybody to do what they can to help.”

The blood transfusion service aims to retain six days’ worth of stock for each of the eight major blood groups but as it cannot be stockpiled, fresh supplies are essential.

This week they issued a public another appeal for those with B- (B negative) blood to come forward due to there being just four days’ worth of stock.

‘We aim to stock six days’ worth of each blood type at all times.’

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service

The SNBTS website states: “Blood demand is unpredictable and even differs with each blood type. For example O- blood can be given to patients with all blood types. AB+ can only be given to patients with AB+.

“To be ready to help patients in all Scottish hospitals, whenever they need it, we aim to stock six days’ worth of each blood type at all times.

“Our blood stocks are updated online every weekday, so you can always see which blood types we need most.”

Extra safety measures have been introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus — most obviously a ban on those who have contracted Covid-19.

They also include a request not to give blood if you are aged 70 or over and to only attend alone, not with friends or family.

Coronavirus has also prompted the service to move out of Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and take up temporary residence at the city’s Marryat Hall from Tuesday, 31 March.

Dr Sylvia Armstrong-Fisher says they will need 75 donors every week in Dundee.

She added: “Safety is always our number one priority. We have put extra safety measures in place at session, so you may notice some changes to adhere to the social distancing policy.

“Blood donation is deemed an essential journey for continuing support of patients in Scotland.”

There are five permanent centres — in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness — but the service also travels around the country.

Sessions are by appointment only and can be arranged by phoning the SNBTS on 0345 90 90 999 or visiting its website

FIRST PERSON: STV Journalist Russell Findlay

With plenty of time on my hands and with nowhere to go, there has never been a better time to donate blood.

Along with some STV News colleagues, I gave a pint of my B+ last year. Shamefully, this was more than 20 years after my first and only previous donation.

Having vowed to not wait another two decades, when the blood transfusion service issued a public plea for donors last week, I gave them a call.

The Glasgow donor centre is based on Nelson Mandela Place which is usually bustling and noisy. On Wednesday — day two of coronavirus lockdown — it was eerily quiet.

Inside, however, it was business as usual and a hive of activity. Rows of donors were lying on beds, precious blood being drawn painlessly from their arms.

The staff were as professional, courteous and upbeat as before. Crisis, what crisis?

However, coronavirus has made its presence felt with the adjacent lobby being converted into a waiting area, the chairs spaced two metres apart to comply with social distancing rules.

Even before crossing the threshold, donors are asked whether they may have been exposed to Covid-19.

Once inside, I was instructed to wash my hands. These measures may be simple but also vital and reassuring.

They also help protect the staff who — like their NHS colleagues — remain exposed to the outside world while many of us are cooped up behind closed doors.

The only other difference was the seating area for post-donation snack and drink had been closed off. No matter, my nurse Elaine Dunn found a new task … bringing some orange juice and a Tunnock’s teacake to me after my successful donation.

Seems like a good deal.

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