The NHS have launched a campaign to increase male blood donors after it was revealed that there is a gender imbalance in new donors.
Statistics for 2019 showed that for every 100 new female donors, there were 70 new male donors, meaning men made up just 41% of new donors last year.
Men's blood typically contains higher levels of iron which is required for some transfusions and products, meaning blood stocks could come under pressure if more men don't donate blood.
A 26% increase in male donors
NHS are looking to counter the gender imbalance by increasing the number of first-time male donors by 26% in 2020.
January has been allocated as a month to raise awareness of the special uses for male blood by NHSBT (National Health Service Blood and Transplant) - male blood, for instance, can only be used for some neonatal transfusions.
Another reason that men donors are key to a strong blood stock is that women's blood can be high in antibodies, which can make transfusions more difficult.
Speaking about the gender imbalance, Mike Stredder, the head of donor recruitment for NHSBT, said: “All our donors are amazing. But we need more than 68,000 men to start donating blood this 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.
"We are focusing the campaign on our donor centres, where there is more capacity for new donors.”
Following in the footsteps of Bob Downes
As part of the new drive for male donors, NHSBT have called on the support of retired georgaphy teacher Bob Downes who has made 74 donations since the year 2000, the most of any donor of this kind.
Encouraging more men to donate on a regular basis he said: "I'm not going to be giving forever, and there are a lot of older people getting to the end of their donation period. We need new people coming in all the time.
"It's painless, it's certainly got a feelgood factor to it, and from the moment you walk through the door of any session you're made to feel very welcome.
"Starting to donate blood when you are young could be your first opportunity to give something back to society."
How to donate in your area
Am I eligible to donate blood?
Most people can give blood.
The NHS notes that you can donate if you fit the following criteria:
- fit and healthy
- weigh between 7 stone 12 lbs and 25 stone, or 50kg and 160kg
- are aged between 17 and 66 (or 70 if you have given blood before)
- are over 70 and have given blood in the last two year
You may not be able to give blood if you are any of the following.
- if you are receiving medical or hospital treatment
- if you are taking medication
- after travelling outside of the UK
- after having a tattoo or piercing
- during and after pregnancy
- if you feel ill
- if you have cancer
- after receiving blood, blood products or organs