A sickle cell disease storyline in Sunday night’s Call the Midwife has prompted a 46 per cent increase in newly registered blood donors, according to the BBC.
Episode two saw Dr Patrick Turner (Stephen McGann) and Nurse Trixie (Helen George) treat a young family affected by a mysterious illness, which was later diagnosed as a devastating genetic blood disorder called sickle cell disease.
Most sickle cell patients in the UK have an African or Caribbean family background, according to the NHS, and as the episode explains, more blood donations from people with a similar ethnic background are needed to help treat the lifelong condition.
“During the show’s 8pm to 9pm broadcast, 46% more people registered as new donors at www.blood.co.uk than during the same hour the previous day,” a Call the Midwife spokesperson wrote on the show’s official Facebook page.
Nadine Eaton, Head of Blood Donation Campaigns for NHS Blood and Transplant, said that she was “thrilled” that the show’s storyline inspired more people to sign up as blood donors.
“People with sickle cell disease have a much better outlook than in the 1960s, including thanks to treatment with regular blood transfusions. The disease is still not widely known amongst the general public but it’s the fastest growing genetic disease in England.
“We particularly need more black people to donate blood. Most sickle cell patients are black and donors from the same ethnic background are more likely to have matching blood.”
The show’s executive producer Pippa Harris said that she was “extraordinarily proud” of the show’s “dramatic” effect.
“Although our show is set in the 1960s the impact of a sickle cell diagnosis is still a devastating one and there are thousands of people in the UK living with this condition,” she added. “Giving blood like those who signed up last night can make a real and lasting impact on the future for those with sickle cell disease.”
This article was originally published on 21 January 2019
To register and book an appointment to donate blood, you can download the mobile GiveBlood app, call 0300 123 23 23 or go online at blood.co.uk