MORE men in Swindon need to donate blood to keep supplies from running low in hospitals.

During 2019, only 41 per cent of the new donors in Swindon were men. Until the end of November, 396 women from Swindon started donating blood but only 271 men did the same, which reflects a wider national trend.

This is a concern because men have higher iron levels, and only men’s blood can be used for some transfusions and products.

Swindon is one of the target areas for new male donors in a new NHS Blood and Transplant campaign running throughout January.

Head of donor recruitment Mike Stredder said: “All our donors are amazing. But we need more men to start donating blood in Swindon 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."

Men are valuable donors for two reasons.

Firstly, they have higher iron levels. Each time they try and donate, they’re less likely to be deferred for low haemoglobin levels. That helps maintain a strong donor base, which is particularly crucial for people who need hundreds of even thousands of transfusions over their lifetime.

Secondly, women can produce antibodies during pregnancy, even during short pregnancies they don’t even know about. Antibodies are part of the body’s defence system and they make transfusions more difficult. This means men’s blood is only used for some specialist transfusions and blood products.

Only men’s blood is used for complete blood transfusions in newborn babies, and also for plasma, which is used for people who’ve had massive blood loss. NHSBT also gets 93 per cent of its platelets from male donors – they are mostly given to cancer patients to cut internal bleeding.

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