Brentford Roll Up Their Sleeves To Launch Bee A Hero Partnership With NHS Blood and Transplant

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Fans had the opportunity to find out their blood type before the Bees played Crystal Palace on Saturday as part of a campaign urging more people to donate blood.

Bee A Hero follows on from the first-ever amber alert due to blood stock shortages in October 2022.

Brentford FC Club Ambassador Marcus Gayle was driving fans to find out their blood type on Saturday as the Club and Community Sports Trust launched the Bee A Hero campaign in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant.

Blood donors from all backgrounds are needed to ensure there is the right blood available for people who need it. To meet demands in England, 400 new donors are required every day.

As part of the Premier League’s No Room For Racism weekend, the Bee A Hero initiative also addresses some of the preconceptions of giving blood in the Black community.

This follows an urgent call for more donors of Black heritage to help treat sickle cell, the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK. Of the 15,000 people in the UK living with sickle cell approximately 90% are Black and ethnically matched blood provides the best treatment.

Sickle cell is an inherited blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become half-moon shaped. This shape makes it harder for the cells to move around the body, causing complications such as painful episodes, frequent infections, and anaemia.

Ro and B positive blood types are urgently needed to treat sickle cell disease and Black blood donors are ten times more likely to have these blood types.

Despite this, only 1.5% of current blood donors in the UK are Black, which equates to around 11,400 people.

To lead the response, Marcus gave blood for the first time in January at the NHS Blood Donation Centre in Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.

Marcus Gayle, Brentford FC Club Ambassador, said: “Having now given blood for the first time I can say there was nothing to worry about. I don’t like needles and had to break through a couple of barriers, but the whole process of donating was quick, easy and painless.

“When I donated I found out that I have the Ro subtype which helps treat sickle cell. Knowing that my donation is going to have a positive impact on another person out there is amazing and I want to stress the importance for others to donate. You really could be saving a life.”

Emily Donovan, Health and Wellbeing Manager at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, added: “This campaign gives us a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation. We’re proud to be working in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant to inform people about the blood donation process and the positive impact that giving blood can have on the lives of those facing specific health specific challenges. We hope to give a voice to those with lived experience of conditions such as sickle cell and inspire more members of our local community to register as blood donors.”

Umar Malik, Community Funding Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Donating blood saves lives and we value the efforts of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust and our partners in supporting us to carry forward this critical message to communities.

“We need more people to  join our amazing community of lifesaving blood donors and help meet the needs of patients now and in the future. 250 donations are also needed every day to treat patients with sickle cell – the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK predominantly affecting people from Black African and Black Caribbean backgrounds. We encourage more people from Black communities to register to donate blood and help us to save and improve more lives.”

To find out more information and to register as a blood donor, please click here

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