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These two women are highlighting the need for blood donors

HELPING HAND: From left - Humayra Akther, Sadeh Sophia, Natelle Williams, Sephuine Morgan and Jenica Leah

COUSINS SADEH Sophia and Jenica Leah answered the call for more people from the black community to give blood and arranged their first ‘United Sicklers’ Donation Day at Birmingham Donor Centre.

Sophia, 25, from Oldbury and Leah, 28, from Walsall both have Sickle Cell anaemia and founded the group ‘United Sicklers’ to raise awareness of the condition.

Twelve of their friends and family attended the centre to sign up and donate; most of them had never given blood before.

Sephuine Morgan, 28, an entrepreneur from West Bromwich joined the group for her first donation.

Morgan said:

“Giving blood was an easy and quick process. My dad has sickle cell anaemia and I always thought that as I had the trait I could not donate blood. I’m really happy to be able to give blood, I have seen first hand the suffering Sickle Cell anaemia can cause. Giving blood does more for people who need it than you can imagine. It is nice to be able to give back.”

Maxine Pitterson, 50, a teacher from Handsworth also joined the group for her first donation. Pitterson is Sophia’s godmother and wanted to support her campaign. She said:

“My first blood donation was quicker than I anticipated. Giving blood can make such a difference to people’s lives.“

Elizabeth Green, 44, a nurse from Kings Heath works with Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia patients at City Hospital.

UNITY: From left - Sadeh Sophia, Elizabeth Green and Jenica Leah

Green said:

“I was unable to give blood as a student 25 years ago and kept using that as a rubbish excuse. Giving blood was so easy; I wish I’d done it earlier. All the patients I work with benefit from blood donation.”

Sophia and Leah added:

"We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who gives blood, blood donors are amazing, they are our heroes, they give us the gift of life."

Sickle cell disease is the fastest growing genetic condition in England and most common in black people, causing extreme pain, life-threatening infections and other complications such as stroke or loss of vision.

To get the best treatment, patients who receive regular blood transfusions for conditions like sickle cell disease, need blood which is closely matched to their own. This is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity. Yet only 1% of current blood donors are black.

Karen Healy, Communications and Marketing officer said:

“We are so delighted to work with Sadeh and Jenica who are helping to promote the importance of blood donation in their community. Approximately 10,000 black people donated blood last year. But we need more."

Sadeh Leah, Sophia and Maxine Pitterson

"We urgently need 40,000 new black donors to give blood and help save the lives of patients with sickle cell disease across England. I hope that Sadeh and Jenica have inspired more people to donate blood with the knowledge that their donations save lives and that it is an easy thing to do.”

Although overall blood use within the NHS has reduced thanks to improvements in clinical and surgical practices, hospitals and patients still rely on more than 6,000 people attending a donation session every day across England.

Blood is required to treat patients for a whole range of reasons. It is used in accident and emergency situations, during surgery and in maternity and neonatal care when either mum or baby need blood. It is also used as a treatment for cancer and for blood disorders, such as sickle cell anaemia.

In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.

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