Famous landmarks across Northern Ireland are dropping key letters from their names in a bid to support a global drive for new blood donors.
One in three people in Northern Ireland are being transfused every hour thanks to the generosity of blood donors.
But Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service is uniting with blood donor organisations across 21 countries to highlight an almost 30% international drop in people becoming blood donors compared to a decade ago.
In a survey for the Missing Type campaign, participating blood services reported the number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time was 1,830,003 in 2005 and 1,324,980 in 2015 – a drop of 27.6% in 2015 compared to 2005.
In fact, the number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time in Northern Ireland actually decreased by 35.7% during the same period.
The campaign – first held in England and North Wales by NHS Blood and Transplant in 2015 – this year brings together 25 blood services from 21 countries who are each calling for new donors to ensure blood donation for future generations.
Throughout the campaign As, Bs and Os, the letters of the main blood groups, will disappear in everyday iconic locations including the Giant’s Causeway and Crumlin Road Gaol.
The letters will also be disappearing from famous locations in Australia, America, Japan, Ireland, England, and many more countries.
As part of the worldwide campaign, patients whose lives were saved by transfusions have thanked blood donors in a moving video called Talking Heads, to highlight that in a world without As, Bs and Os, they would not be here today.
The video features Adrian Moat from Belfast, who originally started an awareness campaign for blood donation on Facebook in 2015.
But it was while running marathons earlier this year to raise awareness for another good cause that Adrian himself needed a blood transfusion. Something as simple as a cough tore a hole in Adrian’s oesophagus, causing internal bleeding and requiring two units of blood and a short stay in hospital.
Adrian was himself already a blood donor after seeing an advertisement appealing for donors: “I saw how quick and easy it was. It just takes 45 minutes and now I am glad other people take the same attitude because there was blood available when I needed it.”
Paul McElkerney, Donor Recruitment and Organisation Manager for Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service which collects, tests and processes blood for hospitals across the province, explained:
“Blood transfusions save lives and transform health for millions across the world. But they are dependent on people donating blood.
“Whether it is patients receiving treatment for cancer, blood disorders, after accidents or during surgery, or new mums who lost blood in childbirth, blood is an absolutely essential part of modern healthcare.”
In Northern Ireland it is possible to start donating from the age of 17 yet only 6% of the eligible population donate.
Although the generosity of current donors means that hospitals have the blood needed to treat patients and there is not a crisis in blood stocks, Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service still need over 150 new donors to come forward every week.
There are a number of ways you can support the Missing Type campaign in Northern Ireland:
1. Enrol as a new blood donor by visiting www.nibts.org
2. Calling 0500 534 666 or texting BLOOD to 60081
3. Drop into a local blood donation session and donate blood; and support the campaign on Facebook and Twitter @givebloodni #MissingType.