Sunderland star John O’Shea appeals for young blood – and he’s not talking about new players

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WE need more young blood.

That’s the call from SAFC stalwart John O’Shea, but the big Irishman isn’t talking about Martin O’Neill bringing in youthful players to bolster his squad.

The ex-Manchester United defender says he would like to see more teenagers donating their blood as a campaign to recruit young donors on Wearside gathers apace this week.

The calls come after a 50 per cent drop in the number of 17 and 18-year-olds registering to be blood donors in 2012, meaning blood stocks are lower than expected.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is calling for people in their late teens and early 20s to give blood and help reverse the trend after over donor numbers fell by a fifth during the last decade.

NHSBT has now set an ambitious target of getting 100,000 new donors to provide blood for life-saving operations.

Each year, about 225,000 new blood givers are needed to replace those who drop out of the system.

Backing the calls O’Shea said: “Giving blood is really important and can save lives.

“You can make a massive difference by giving your support to the campaign.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved.”

Of the 5,000 donors NHSBT says it needs to recruit from the North East, approximately 2,000 are expected to be aged 17-24.

Jon Latham, NHSBT spokesman, said: “The number of young people donating has been falling for the last decade but this year there’s been a sharp drop and we now need 100,000 donors to sign up in the next 100 days to start addressing the shortfall.

“We welcome all eligible new donors, but a failure to boost the number of young donors now will put a strain on the blood service in the years to come.”

Staff from NHSBT will provide more information about how to donate blood in Market Square, Sunderland city centre, today, Wednesday and Friday.

Students keen to find out more about signing up can visit a stall at Sunderland University on Thursday.

For more go to www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

Twitter: @davidallison88