The team behind MOBO have formed a unique and ground-breaking new partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant in a new campaign to drive more young donors to register and give blood, especially those from black and Asian communities.
At the heart of the campaign is an inspirational film called ‘Represent’, fronted by acclaimed UK grime artist Lady Leshurr, and also featuring leading British black and Asian public figures including record-breaking multiple gold winning Olympian Nicola Adams MBE, Chuka Umunna MP, TV presenter and wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan MBE and MOBO’s own founder and CEO Kanya King MBE.
The 1min 44sec film features a song by artist and producer Melesha O’Garro, aka Lady Leshurr, which includes the lyrics “We all gotta take some time to make it right. We gotta take some time, give blood, save a life.”
Lady Leshurr said:
“Coming from the black community, this is a cause close to my heart. I really hope this campaign will make a difference, and bring about real change and help those that need it most. It’s now time to give blood and save a life.”
Currently, despite making up 14% of the total UK population, only 3% of donors who gave blood in the last 12 months are of black or Asian heritage. With people from these communities more likely to have rare blood types, it is important we have the right mix of blood groups available. People from these communities are also more likely to have conditions like Sickle Cell Disease or Thalassaemia, which require regular blood transfusions. For patients with these conditions, blood from donors with a similar ethnic background gives the best match and long term outcomes.
One such patient is Ummi Sani-Mohammed, now 17, who was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease at birth. From the age of 13 through until now, Ummi has spent most of her life in and out of hospital. All through her GCSE exams, she was unable to leave hospital so she sat her exams from her hospital bed. Ummi requires regular blood transfusions to prevent the painful symptoms Sickle Cell can cause. She also suffers from extreme transfusion reactions, due to the blood she receives not being an ideal match and each time she receives a transfusion, it becomes harder to match.
“I have needed regular blood transfusions since I had my first major crisis when I was thirteen. I know that the blood transfusions are important for my health, but it is hard knowing that they can also make me ill because the blood that is available isn’t the best match for me. Now I am getting older, I want to do all I can to make people aware of Sickle Cell Disease and the importance of people from all backgrounds, especially those from different ethnic backgrounds, to give blood. I want people to imagine what it would be like if your child or relative needed a transfusion.”
In addition to the need for more black and Asian donors, over 50% of all current blood donors are aged 45 and over, meaning there is a particular need for more young donors to come forward. The new campaign therefore aims to tackle both issues and inspire the next generation of young blood donors, especially those of black and Asian heritage, to come forward, start donating and become lifelong lifesavers.
Kanya King MBE, Founder and CEO of the MOBO Organisation explains:
“MOBO has always had a social and cultural responsibility beyond the parameters of music, so we are proud to offer our platform and voice to play a part in delivering this important blood donation message that is fronted by talented MOBO Award nominee Lady Leshurr.”
In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating. To find out more or book an appointment visit www.blood.co.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 so search for ‘NHS Give Blood’ app.
The film will be released to the media and across digital and social channels and online at the ‘Represent’ microsite : www.blood.co.uk/represent
The 2016 MOBO Awards take place in Glasgow on Friday 4th November and will be broadcast live on ITV2 and repeated on ITV on the same night at 10.40pm on ITV.