Over 1,600 Northamptonshire people signed up as blood donors during rugby-backed campaign

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People who signed up for the #BleedForEngland campaign to become a blood donor are being urged to make appointments to donate.

The #BleedForEngland campaign aimed to rally people in England to sign up to donate blood to help patients as well as support their own team during the world’s biggest rugby tournament. The campaign, backed by World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson, Ben Kay, Jason Leonard and Maggie Alphonsi, encouraged 1,620 people living in Northamptonshire who had never registered to give blood before to register as donors.

Now those volunteers are being asked to book their appointment and help save lives over the holiday season

NHS Blood and Transplant relies on people across England and North Wales giving up their time to donate to ensure it continually has enough stocks of the correct blood types to meet patient needs.

Red blood cells have a shelf life of just 35 days and platelets a shelf life of only seven days. Donations from all blood groups, but especially from O- negative, B- negative and A- negative donors, and from some communities such as Black African and Black Caribbean communities (as they are more likely to have a rare blood group) are needed throughout the winter.

While many people think that blood is used mainly for accidents and emergencies, donated blood is vital for a wide variety of life-saving procedures. This includes helping patients with cancer or undergoing some operations.

Jon Latham, Assistant Director of Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to the well-known rugby players and organisations who have given up their time freely to support the campaign. We’re delighted that more than 100,000 new donors have committed to save lives by donating blood and it’s great that so many people in Northamptonshire signed up.

“We’d now like everybody who signed up to book their first appointment and commit to attending a session to save lives. We appreciate your first donation can be quite nerve-wracking but players like Jonny, Martin, Ben, Jason and Maggie have shown just how easy it is to do.

2003 World Cup winner Ben Kay said: “It’s amazing that more than 100,000 people signed up to #BleedForEngland. This has been one of the best World Cups, and while the England team didn’t do as well on the pitch as many people hoped, people living in England have been fantastic off it by signing up to save lives through blood donation. I donated for myself for the first time in August and it really is an easy thing to do. I left with a great feeling knowing that in just one hour I’d saved and improved patient lives. If you haven’t got around to donate yourself yet, I hope you’ll do so in the run up to the festive season and help NHS Blood and Transplant provide the blood that patients need.”

To book an appointment, visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23. You can also use the mobile app available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone. Search ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the app store.