BLOOD donors across the Tivyside region have responded to a request from the Welsh Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a lifesaving donation at one of the new regional hubs.

Across Wales, of the 6,234 individuals who visited a Welsh Blood Service donation session last month, almost two thirds (65%) of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation venue.

In Pembrokeshire, 598 donors came forward to give blood in April, with 72 attending a donation session for the very first time. In Carmarthenshire, 285 donors gave blood over the same period, with 31 first-time attendees.

Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the 30 community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.

The service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.

The next donation session in the Tivyside region takes place at Newcastle Emlyn Rugby Club, running for four days from Monday, May 18 to Thursday, May 21. Sessions run from 11am-1.30pm and 3pm-7pm by appointment only booked through the Welsh Blood website.

Alan Prosser, director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.

“100% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken and 65% of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially lifesaving donation.”

The service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming forward to donate.

Mr Prosser added: “In April 2019, around 12% of those that attended our donation sessions were new donors. This April, around 17% of our attendance has been people who had never given before.

“We’ve also seen a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”

Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals. However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet hospital demand in the coming months,” said Mr Prosser.

Travel to donate blood is considered essential and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the website.