'Generation gap' fears as young blood donors fall

There has been a 20 per cent drop in the number of young blood donors over the past decade - prompting fears of an "alarming generation gap" in blood donation.

Only 14 per cent of people who donate regularly are under 30, while more than two-thirds are over 40, according to figures from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

There were 297,539 donors aged 17 to 34 in 2001, dropping to 237,520 now. Around 200,000 blood donors of all ages drop off the register every year.

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NHSBT, backed by a number of celebrities, is calling for 10,000 people to "make a date to donate". Its poll, released to coincide with World Blood Donor Day today, found young people are "too busy" to donate or are frightened of the procedure.

The NHS needs 7,000 units of donated blood daily for many procedures, including surgery, to treat cancer, blood disorders and in difficult childbirths.

Jon Latham, assistant director of blood donation at NHSBT, said thousands of lives are saved every year thanks to donors.

He said: "Just one unit of blood can save the life of three adults or seven babies, and you can start donating from the age of 17."

Some 4 per cent of the UK population are active blood donors. People can give blood every 16 weeks, or three times a year.

Actress Kym Marsh, footballer Gary Lineker and TV presenter Kate Thornton are backing the campaign.

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