NHS appeal for specific blood donors - how to check your blood type

NHS appeal for specific blood donors - but how do you check your blood type?
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

The NHS has launched an urgent appeal for blood donors, specifically those with O type blood, following a cyber attack last week that targeted a pathology partner of some the country's biggest hospitals.

As a result of the breach, some hospitals are struggling to keep up the speed of matching patients with the correct type of blood. The NHS is pleading for universal donors, who are those with type O blood, in order to help bypass this resource-consuming process.

People who have previously donated blood, been pregnant or undergone medical procedures will have had their blood type tested, and they will been told which type they are between A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O-. However, for those that don't know their type, the only way to find out is through a quick blood test which takes about five minutes and can be done while donating blood.

Blood types are vital, as transfusing a patient with an incompatible donor can have fatal consequences. This is why the NHS is pleading specifically for type O donors, in order to speed up the matching process.

The cyber attack has crippled the pathology services powering some hospitals, forcing medical professionals to prioritise the most urgent pathology cases, while others get postponed or diverted to other hospitals. The O- blood type is the most sought after as it is a universal donor, meaning that it is able to be transfused into a patient with any other type, so it is usually the blood type used for emergency transfusions.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, O+ is the most common blood type, and while it’s not a universal donor, it can be accepted by any type with a Rhesus factor, namely A+, B+, AB+ and O+. This means that roughly 76% of the population can safely receive blood from an O+ donation.

NHS Blood and Transplant are urging O- and O+ donors to book appointments at one of their donation centres, but they are also open to donors of any blood type. They are looking to replenish stocks in general, following the May bank holidays and recent half term.