As Sickle Cell Awareness Month ends, NHS reports show a rise in black blood donors.

NHS Blood and Transplant figures show that black people in Harrow are responding to the urgent need for more donors as over the past year, 18.9 per cent more black people have donated blood in Harrow.

This comes after NHS Blood and Transplant urged more black people in Harrow to register as black donors and save lives due to an overall shortage. This appeal continues as while the amount of donors has increased, the shortage remains.

People supporting the appeal include Mark Scarlett, 53, from Pinner, who has heroically given 96 blood donations to date. Each donation has the ability to impact and save up to three lives, so Mr Scarlett may have potentially saved the lives of 288 people.

This generous donation isn’t only seen from Mr Scarlett, as he explained that his dad, both brothers, two sons and two eldest nieces are all regular donors too.

He said: “I was brought up old school – you hold the door open for people, you help wherever you can, and you give without expecting to receive.

“Giving blood is a great way of helping others who need this valuable resource during crucial times in their lives.”

Mr Scarlett has kept himself generally healthy, as he is a regular gym goer and has also earned a black belt in Kuk Sool Won which is a Korean martial art. Up until a couple months ago, he used to cycle 12 miles to the office and back at least once a week.

He wishes to clarify misconceptions about donating, as he said: “Some people say donating stops you being active but I actually think it helps my training and fitness since I'm replenishing myself with fresh blood and still train twice a week in both the gym and Kuk Sool Won, even in the weeks I donate, although I won't train in the 48 hours after donating”

An increase in black blood donors is vital as patients from the same ethnic background are more likely to have the same blood types, but with a shortage of black blood donors, it makes it harder to find the best matched blood for black patients.

NHS Blood and Transplant are still aiming for 40,000 new black donors nationally, despite an increase after several appeals in the past three years.

Ro-type-blood, which is often used to save people with sickle cell, is ten times more common in black people than in white people. Unfortunately, only 2 per cent of NHS blood donations are Ro-type-blood.