PEOPLE are being urged to donate blood as health chiefs are expecting demand to soar during the Olympics.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) estimates that the demand for blood type O negative (O–) will surge by 70 per cent during the 2012 Games.
Statistics show that during public holidays, demand for type O– blood, which can be transfused into any patient regardless of their own blood type, rises significantly.
During the Diamond Jubilee celebrations demand was 69 per cent higher, statistics show.
NHSBT urged donors, including those with other blood types, to come forward before an “exceptionally busy” summer for blood banks.
It comes after Hartlepool man Leon Zielinski became the face of a campaign urging people to donate blood as it can save lives.
Leon was not expected to live past 13 after being born with an illness that affects just seven babies each year in the UK. He has been given almost 1,000 pints of blood in transfusions to battle Black Fan Diamond Syndrome.
Leon has to be given up to three pints every three weeks to cope with the condition, a failure of his body to make red blood cells, causing anaemia that leaves him feeling extremely lethargic.
Leon, 23, who was studying IT at Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street, said at the time: “I would like to say a big thank you to all blood donors, old and new, for giving me the gift of life.
“Without all you special people who take the time out to help me and lots of others I wouldn’t be here today enjoying my life. I owe my life to you.”
Now bosses at the service are appealing for people to give blood as they always see a drop during big sports events and national holidays.
NHSBT spokesman Jon Latham said: “Without O– blood donors, many lifesaving procedures could be delayed or made more risky for patients. And we wouldn’t be able to give transfusions to people with O– at all since they can only take blood of their own type.
“We’re appealing to this elite group of blood donors to help us prepare for the unprecedented demand expected around the Olympics to make sure our health services have the essential stocks they need.”
For your nearest blood donation session or to add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register, call 0300 1232323 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk