O-type blood donors needed after London cyber-attack

Man donating bloodImage source, Getty Images
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An appeal has been launched for O blood-type donors to book appointments across the country following the ransomware attack affecting major London hospitals.

The IT attack means the affected hospitals cannot currently match patients' blood at the same frequency as usual.

Several London hospitals declared a critical incident, cancelled operations and tests, and were unable to carry out blood transfusions last week after the attack on the pathology firm Synnovis, which Qilin, a Russian group of cyber criminals, is understood to have been behind.

On Monday afternoon, the NHS blood donation website implemented a queuing system for booking appointments, which is used to manage times of higher demand.

NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for O positive and O negative blood donors to book appointments in one of the 25 NHS Blood Donor Centres, external in England.

For surgeries and procedures requiring blood to take place, hospitals need to use O- type blood - known as the universal blood type - as this is safe to use for all patients. It is used in emergencies or when a patient's blood type is unknown.

Blood has a shelf life of 35 days so stocks need to be continually replenished, the NHS said.

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

King's College Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas' (including the Royal Brompton and the Evelina London Children's Hospital) and primary care services in London declared a critical incident after last week's IT attack.

Prof Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said staff were going "above and beyond to minimise the significant disruption to patients".

He added: "We know that a number of operations and appointments have been postponed or diverted to other neighbouring hospitals not impacted by the cyber-attack, as we prioritise pathology services for the most clinically urgent cases."

Just 8% of the population have type O negative but it makes up about 15% of hospital orders.

O positive is the most common blood type - 35% of donors have it - and it can be given to anybody with any positive blood type. This means 76% of the population can benefit from an O positive donation.

This National Blood Week it has been revealed that three blood donations are needed every minute in hospitals and there are about 13,000 appointments available nationally this week in NHS Blood Donor Centres with 3,400 available in London.

'Above and beyond'

Dr Gail Miflin, chief medical officer for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "Patient safety is our absolute priority.

"When hospitals do not know a patient's blood type or cannot match their blood, it is safe to use O-type blood.

"To support London hospitals to carry out more surgeries and to provide the best care we can for all patients, we need more O negative and O positive donors than usual."

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