Blood bank reserves are at about half the normal level. The South Thames Blood Transfusion Service, which supplies 57 hospitals in the capital and parts of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, appealed yesterday for type O donors, past and present, to visit their nearest transfusion centres urgently. Extra weekend donor sessions are being set up.
The increased demand for blood has come at a time when reserves of all types are at a seasonal low nationally because of the Easter and May bank holidays. In the south Thames area that has meant the loss of between four and five thousand pints.
No details are being released about the victim, at the request of his family, but it is known that the 30-year-old man was knocked off his bicycle by a car at the end of April. A lorry ran over the lower part of his body, crushing his pelvis and internal organs. Doctors realised that local blood supplies were inadequate and more blood was brought in from other hospitals and transfusion centres.
So far, the man has had his blood replaced about 50 times, and will almost certainly need more as he awaits further surgery.
He is receiving type O blood, positive and negative. Type O negative blood is known as the universal donor: it can be given to anyone needing a transfusion because it does not react with other blood types. Large quantities are used in hospitals every day.
Sylvia Sinclair, of the South Thames Blood Transfusion Service, which is based at St Georges's Hospital, London, said that it was 'highly unusual' for one patient to need so much blood. 'I don't remember anything like this since the policeman George Hammond needed 300 pints of blood after he was attacked,' she said. Mr Hammond was stabbed in east Dulwich in 1985.
The problem this month was compounded by the fact that hospitals have been told by the Department of Health to reduce their surgical waiting lists, and more operations are being carried out, further depleting blood supplies, Ms Sinclair said. Three other transfusion centres in London were in a similar position, she added.
'We are appealing to all donors, but particularly O donors, to give blood over the next few days to help replenish our stocks.'
The service is the largest blood transfusion centre in Europe and needs an average of 1,300 pints every day.
People wishing to give blood should call Freefone 0800-300 333 to be referred to their nearest centre.Reuse content