The NHS Blood and Transplant department is targeting a six per cent increase in new male donors in 2020. Photograph: NHS

The NHS is urging more men in Hackney to give blood to help tackle a gender imbalance among new donors.

Last year, 293 men in the borough started giving blood, compared to 404 women – reflecting a national trend.

Men’s higher iron levels means only their blood can be used for certain operations – including complete transfusions in newborn babies.

The NHS Blood and Transfusion department (NHSBT) is concerned that the current gender imbalance means blood stocks will soon come under increasing pressure.

A donation session at Redbridge Town Hall.
Photograph: NHS

Mike Stredder, NHSBT’s head of donor recruitment, said: “All our donors are amazing. But we need more men to start donating blood in Hackney during the New Year.

“Men’s blood can be used in extraordinary, lifesaving ways, but we don’t have enough new male donors coming forward. This is not about recruiting as many donors as possible – it’s about getting the right gender mix.

“If you can’t find an appointment right away don’t worry – your blood will do extraordinary things if you donate in a few weeks instead.”

Men’s iron levels mean they are less likely to be deferred for low haemoglobin when they try to donate. NHSBT says this helps maintain a strong donor base and is particularly crucial for people who need hundreds if not thousands of transfusions.

According to the department, women can produce antibodies during pregnancy, forming a defence system for the body which can make using their blood for transfusions more difficult.

As well as transfusions for newborns, only men’s blood is used to replenish plasma in patients who have suffered massive blood loss.

NHSBT also gets 93 per cent of its platelets from male donors – these are mainly given to cancer patients to cut internal bleeding.

The department is running a campaign in Hackney throughout January to attract more male donors. It wants 48 per cent of all new donors in Hackney to be male during 2020 – up from 42 per cent last year.

For more information, or to become a blood donor, head to blood.co.uk

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