LIVES are at risk after the number of young people registering to become blood donors plummeted across Sunderland.
Alarming figures reveal there were 820 people, aged 17 to 24, who agreed to donate blood for the first time in 2009 but this fell to just 514 last year.
The worrying trend across Wearside has prompted concerns that too few young adults appreciate the importance of the blood donation service.
While thanking the dedicated donors who give blood on a regular basis, the NHS Blood and Transplant Service is now keen to recruit more young people in a bid to boost numbers.
Stacey Tench’s daughter, Bronya, three, appeared in the Echo this week as she fights a rare heart condition.
During the first few months of her life, Bronya, of Red House, Sunderland, had to have six blood transfusions and three major heart operations in a bid to save her life.
After what has happened to her daughter, Stacey, 26, says she realises just how important blood donation is.
“It really does make you realise and I would urge anyone who can give blood, to do it - even if they’re afraid of needles.”
Little Bronya faces having to have a heart transplant if her next operation does not help the youngster.
Each blood donation made is divided into parts – platelets, red cells and plasma – which could potentially save three lives.
Cancer patients in particular need platelets, a sticky substance in the blood which rushes to a wound to help fight against infection, as these are destroyed during chemotherapy.
The National Blood Service needs to collect almost 13,000 units of blood every year in Sunderland to help patients in local hospitals.
Donna Batty, lead donor relations manager for Sunderland, said: “We have had thousands of dedicated new donors sign up and we want to continue to build on this enthusiasm during National Blood Week.
“We welcome all eligible new donors and are grateful for the dedicated support shown by our loyal donors across Sunderland.
“We especially need young people to come forward – they are the lifesavers of the future. Young people are vital to the blood service, with 17 to 24-year-olds accounting for around 40 per cent of new donors each year.
“We need thousands of new registrations every month to replace those donors who can no longer donate so we would encourage everyone to sign up.”
•Find out more about donating blood by visiting www.blood.co.uk or calling us on 0300 123 23 23.