Great North Air Ambulance Service appealing for more blood donations

Great North Air Ambulance Service is appealing for more people to donate blood as supplies fall low.

For the first time ever, blood supplies have fallen critically low in England, and the levels of O-type blood, which is used by Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), has dropped to below two days.

An amber alert has recently been issued on blood stocks which means hospitals have put measures in place to ensure blood remains available for those in greatest need.

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As blood can only be stored for 35 days, there is a constant need for donations – and a need for specific blood types.

Blood stocks have dropped to worryingly low levels.

O blood groups are in higher demand because O positive is the most common blood type, and O negative is a ‘universal blood type’ which can be administered to anyone, which makes it vitally important in an emergency or when a patient’s blood type is unknown.

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GNAAS first started carrying blood on board in 2015, after GNAAS doctor Rachel Hawes OBE headed up a project in collaboration between the Newcastle Hospitals, GNAAS and volunteers from the Cumbria and Northumbria Blood Bikes.

In 2018 Rachel was awarded an OBE in recognition of her pioneering work and this year reached the milestone of delivering blood transfusions to 500 patients.

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Speaking about the project, Dr Rachel Hawes OBE said: “Knowing that it’s potentially helped to save the lives of people in our communities in the North East and Cumbria has been one of the highlights of my career.

“Delivering this project has been down to teamwork on every level and we wouldn’t be able to run this service without all of their hard work.

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“The transfusion lab team at the RVI do all the unseen work in the background to prepare and package up the units for us and make sure it’s all safe, and the teams from Northumbria Blood Bikes and Blood Bikes Cumbria provide a daily delivery service to both of our air bases 365 days per year come rain or shine.

“This saves GNAAS approximately £50,000 in delivery costs per year alone so without them, we just couldn’t afford to run the service.”

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To book an appointment to donate blood please visit blood.co.uk