UK & World News
Blood Donors 'Urgently Needed', Says NHS
People with the O- blood type are needed to give blood urgently following a dramatic fall in supplies and rising demand over Christmas, the NHS has said.
The appeal comes at a time when stocks of all blood types usually drop due to the festive break, when fewer donors are available.
But the early outbreak of the Norovirus - also known as the winter vomiting bug - has also caused many people to cancel their donation appointments this year because of illness.
Hospitals across the country stock extra blood supplies for the Christmas and New Year periods.
On Christmas Eve, some 50% more O- blood was issued to hospitals than on an average day.
Donors with the O- blood type are known as "universal donors" because their blood can be given to patients who have a different blood group.
But Jon Latham, of NHS Blood and Transplant, told Sky News there were now just over three days' supply of O- blood left.
"We are concerned, and we are hoping people will come forward to make sure we can supply hospitals," he said. "The next 10 days or so will be tight.
"We would like to urge all O- donors to walk into their most convenient donor session to give blood to help rebuild stock levels."
Of the four main blood types, group O is the most common and therefore in highest demand.
About 7% of the population has the O- blood type.
Mr Latham said waiting times for people who want to donate may vary over the coming days as staff try to accommodate all donors.
"Demand for blood never stops and O- donors can help to ensure healthy blood stocks in the upcoming weeks, by giving blood now and in the next few days," he said.
Any healthy person aged between 17 and 65, and weighing more than 110lb (50kg), can potentially become a blood donor.
:: For information on how to donate, visit www.blood.co.uk or contact 0300 123 2323.