NHS Blood and Transplant to attend Birmingham Pride to celebrate a year since changes to blood donation eligibility rules

Graham Robson September 23, 2022

NHS Blood and Transplant will be attending Birmingham Pride this weekend to celebrate changes in eligibility rules which means more people than ever before can now become blood donors.

The NHS hopes to reach more than 40,000 people from the LGBTQ+ community in Birmingham with the message that more people than ever before can now donate blood.

In June 2021 changes to blood donor eligibility rules meant that more men who have sex with men were able to donate blood, platelets and plasma for the first time.

The changes marked a historic move to make blood donation more inclusive while keeping blood just as safe.

Birmingham Pride takes place on Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25 with parades through the city, community events and the main event taking place at the former Smithfields market site.

Community engagement teams from NHS Blood and Transplant will be promoting blood donation and speaking to people about the eligibility changes. This will also be the first time ever that representatives from NHS Blood and Transplant will be marching in the Birmingham Pride parade, celebrating the diversity and inclusion of our donors and colleagues.

Pav Akhtar, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “NHS Blood and Transplant’s high profile participation at Birmingham Pride celebrations helps to mark the first year anniversary of donor eligibility changes coming into effect. This is a significant milestone for safe and inclusive donations.

“NHS Blood and Transplant has one of the world’s most progressive blood donation policies while still maintaining the safety of our blood supply. This is something we can all be proud of.

“This is an opportunity to build on our existing partnership work with diverse communities to encourage more people to donate by raising awareness of these eligibility changes.

“We are delighted to be attending Birmingham Pride to promote the life-changing gift of blood donation that many more people from LGBTQ+ communities are now able to contribute to.

“It takes just one hour to give blood, and each time you can save or improve up to three lives.”

According to NHS Blood and Transplant, there is an urgent need for more donors as blood stock levels continue to fluctuate as appointments are impacted by staff and donor absence due to illness and a drop in donations over summer when people are busy with holidays and events.

There is also a critical need for more people of Black African and Black Caribbean ethnicity to become blood donors. Black donors are more likely to have the blood sub-type Ro.

Ro is often used to treat the growing number of people with the rare blood disorder, sickle cell disease. Only 2% of our donors have Ro blood which is ten times more common in Black people than in White people.

Each month 1,300 Black donors are needed to give blood to provide life-saving transfusions to sickle cell patients, as well as for use in emergencies, childbirth, during surgery, in cancer treatments and for use in other medical conditions.

George Mattu

George Mattu, from Birmingham, has been attending Birmingham Pride since 2014 and donated blood for the first time in August.

He said: “I am proud to become a blood donor – it was quick and easy and to know that I have helped to save or improve three lives is amazing.

“Giving blood is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I would encourage anyone to take that step and book an appointment to give blood.”

To become a blood donor, book an appointment HERE, download the GiveBloodNHS app or call 0300 123 23 23.