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NHS Blood and Transplant says more young people needed to give blood in Kent

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The young people of Kent are being urged to become blood donors, as last year only 10% of those who donated in the county were under 24.

The Missing Type campaign has been launched by NHS Blood and Transplant to ensure blood donation for future generations.

Last year, 32,202 people in Kent gave blood at least once, including 4,344 people in Medway.

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Steven and Oakley in hospital
Steven and Oakley in hospital

But, only 3,200 of these donors were aged between 17 and 24.

The main factors which put people off donating blood include traveling to exotic countries, people having less time, lack of awareness of the process and a fear of needles.

Lorraine Orange, who's son Oakley, 10, has Stevens-Johnson syndrome, says he relies on blood transfusions to keep him alive.

Oakley Orange with mum Lorraine
Oakley Orange with mum Lorraine

The condition, triggered by an allergic reaction to epilepsy medication, meant Oakley lost all his skin as well as his hair, toenails and finger nails. He spent weeks in intensive care, battling hypothermia and a lung infection.

Mrs Orange, from Rochester, said: "Throughout his hospital stay he had in excess of 17 pints of blood. He was loosing so much blood from the open wounds on his skin and because he lost so much of his skin his body was one open sore.

"For him, without the blood he wouldn't be here today.

VIDEO: Lorraine talks about the importance of blood donors for her son.

"I think it's the fright, they think having a needle is going to really hurt.

"They think it's a huge needle they use to take the blood away. It's not, it's a normal needle they would use for a blood test if you were poorly yourself.

"You can still go in the evenings, it's literally a small part of your day. I just wish they would take an hour out of their day to save someones life."

Figures show there's been almost a 30% international drop in people becoming blood donors last year compared to 10 years ago.

The number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time in England decreased by almost 25% in 2015 compared to 2005.

Oakley Orange, 10
Oakley Orange, 10

There is a particular need for more young blood donors and more black and Asian donors.

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "We need more young donors to safeguard blood donation for future generations. And it’s vital the blood donor community reflects the diversity of the population because blood types vary across communities and patients need well-matched blood.

We particularly need people with blood groups O negative, and A negative to come forward and people from black and South Asian communities.

“Don’t worry if you’ve never given blood before and don’t know what blood group you are – you find out shortly after your first donation. What’s important is that you register as a donor and book your first appointment to donate.”

People can register as blood donors at www.blood.co.uk.

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