Press release

More openness could boost blood banking, research suggests

The act of giving blood is associated with notions of community and contributing to the greater good. But blood services today are an increasingly complex business clouded by issues such as the use of blood for research as well as the clinic, distribution and contamination.

Dr Helen Busby from the University of Nottingham interviewed 26 donors at one UK blood centre as part of a wider programme of work about blood banking and biobanking. She found that donors often don’t appreciate the complex issues surrounding blood donation. There was a lack of knowledge and understanding of how their contribution would be used - few knew, for example, that just 8 per cent of blood donations in England and Wales are used in emergencies.

Dr Busby found an implicit trust in the National Blood Service to use the blood and blood products as they saw fit, though there was a strong emphasis on the voluntary act of giving blood and contributing to the NHS, a service many were grateful for. She calls for blood services to be more open about how blood is used and processed, and for this to be better communicated to the public. Though such information is openly available, little effort is made to emphasise this. She suggests that a more open discussion could help modern blood services in the long run as traditional aspects of blood banking fail to attract the donations needed to sustain demand.