Blood donor session Tooting Donor Centre, St Georges Hospital, South London 2005.

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The NHS is urging blood donors to keep their appointments during the coronavirus outbreak.

It said donations were 15% lower than expected last week, amid fears donors are feeling unsure about safety and whether sessions are still going ahead.

A spokesman said the impact of the drop was minimal but must be addressed.

NHS Blood and Transplant said calls to its contact centre to ask if donation sessions were going ahead went from around 30 to around 500 a day.

It said stocks remain “good” currently, but officials are keen to reduce uncertainty by maintaining a regular amount of donations over the coming months.

The NHSBT said that potential donors need to make sure they are well enough to visit a clinic, and should stay away if they have a high fever or persistent cough.

Meanwhile, donation teams are taking extra hygiene precautions to alleviate any fears due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Gail Miflin, the chief medical officer for NHSBT, says that donors are needed at times of crisis such as now more than ever.

“Blood donation saves lives and we will need our donors more than ever over the new few weeks and months. Please keep your appointment to donate if you can.

“Combating the virus will take a huge national effort. Donation is something you can do to help the NHS. It’s a reason to go outside and then do something amazing.”

‘We will still need blood’

Dr Amita Ranger, from north-west London told the BBC that maintaining regular blood donations would be crucial to the care of many high-risk patients around the UK in the coming weeks and months.

“Women will still have babies and we need blood for the management of obstetric haemorrhage, car accidents and other trauma are inevitable and we need blood for these situations.

“Patients with bone marrow disorders such as leukaemia will need blood products to get them through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants as will all cancer patients.”

Dr Amit Raithatha, from London, suffers from thalassaemia, a rare blood disorder that means he produces very little haemoglobin, which is used by blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.

Those who suffer with the condition require blood transfusions every three weeks to stay alive.

He says it is vital that donors keep their appointments to refrain from adding more pressure to the already strained NHS.

“It’s imperative that everyone keeps donating blood so that we avoid another ripple effect health crisis,” he told the BBC.

“There is no need for anyone to stop donating blood, Covid-19 cannot be transmitted by blood.”

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