6:24pm Thursday 31st May 2012
By Adrian Imms
The number of people giving blood across Sussex has fallen, with 1,300 donors dropping off the register in the past year alone.
There are now just over 36,000 donors across the county, but more people are being urged to sign up and help boost blood stocks ahead of the Jubilee weekend and over the summer.
Hospitals across England and North Wales need 7,000 units of blood every day.
There has been a 4% decline in the number of active donors in East Sussex, with almost the same drop in Brighton and Hove, while West Sussex fared slightly better, according to figures released by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).
John Canning, of NHSBT, said: “Every year we need to recruit 230,000 new donors to replace those unable to donate for whatever reason.
“This year, we face a special challenge. We are seeking to build our blood stocks to be 30% higher than normal for the start of the Olympics.”
Blood service officials say enough blood is collected each year to meet demand, but with summer on its way, hospitals across the county may see a rise in the number of admissions.
The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton opened a major regional trauma unit in April to deal with serious accidents and emergencies.
On average, it sees three critically ill patients every day.
In most cases medics rely on supplies of O-negative blood because it can be used by all blood groups.
However, only 7% of the population is O-negative, making it a valuable commodity.
NHSBT assistant director Jon Latham said: “O-negative in particular is always a difficult one for us. It is often used in accidents, and trauma units do tend to use it.
“There will always be a demand for blood – especially in the negative groups. We will continue needing it.”
Only about 4% of the eligible population donates blood.
There has been a 20% drop in young donors over the past decade, with only 14% of regular donors aged under 30 and more than two-thirds of regular donors over 40.
Mr Latham added: “Without a doubt, the first experience of giving blood for young donors is key.
“If we can get that right, they will come back.
“We literally need fresh blood.”
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