The mother of 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye – who was found dead after being reported missing in April – is urging Black people to donate blood for those in need within their communities.
Evidence Joel reported her son Richard missing missing from their home in West London earlier this year. Sadly, two weeks later, his body was found 20 miles away in Epping Forest.
Prior to being reported missing, Richard had been isolating at home due to the pandemic, only leaving to go to hospital to receive blood transfusions, for the sickle cell disorder he was living with.
‘Blood donation campaigns are incredibly important to encourage existing blood donors to donate regularly and new blood donors to consider donating, particularly within the Black community,’ says Evidence.
She says Black people should seriously consider giving blood in order to ‘help the lives of sickle cell patients’ and ‘save their lives’.
Every month, NHS Blood and Transplant need 1,300 new Black donors to provide essential treatment for 15,000 patients living with sickle cell – and to provide life-saving blood for use in emergencies, childbirth, surgery, treatment of cancer and other conditions.
While people of Black heritage are 10X more likely to have the same rare blood subtype, the shortage of Black donors makes it harder to find the best ethnically matched blood for Black patients.
A new blood donation campaign – Bonded by Blood – has launched in memory of 19-year-old Richard.
‘I am grateful for the Bonded by Blood organisations coming together to do something positive in the name of my son,’ says Evidence.
‘He had a bright future ahead of him. It is my hope his legacy will be that of his name, encouraging people from the Black community to support each other by doing something so amazing such as giving blood.’
Bonded by Blood: A Mothers Story, will share 17 individual stories through a short film on how blood donation has positively impacted the lives of individuals who receive or have previously received blood transfusions.
These stories will be told through the lens of the mothers who have supported their children on their blood transfusion journey, whilst amplifying the need for more blood donors from the Black community to step forward and donate during either World Sickle Cell Awareness month in September, or Black History Awareness Month in October.
‘The number of Black blood donors has increased in recent years but there is still a long way to go,’ says Beverley De-Gale OBE, ACLT co-founder.
‘By asking the Black community to step up and donate during World Sickle Cell Awareness Month or Black History Month, we hope it will contribute to the much-needed blood stocks now and in years to come.
‘Additionally, the rare Ro Blood subtype is more commonly found in Black people and that’s why Black donors are so important to ensure that patients get this lifesaving treatment.’
Marsha Crossland, senior campaigns lead at NHS Blood and Transplant adds: ‘We are proud and privileged to support this campaign in memory of Richard, but also in celebration of the extraordinary gift that blood donors give to those that desperately need blood transfusions.
‘It is important that people who need transfusions get blood from a donor of a similar ethnicity, and while we have seen a 29% rise in numbers of Black donors, we need 16,000 new donors from Black communities this year as demand for ethnically matched blood has increased by 50%.’
The special blood donation events will take place over three consecutive weekends between 25 September – 10 October, at venues across London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester.
To register to donate blood and attend the Bonded by Blood: A Mothers Story blood donation sessions, individuals should call the priority booking line on 0300 303 2805.
Alternatively, people can complete the pre-booking form online.
Bonded by Blood donation sessions
- Sunday 26 September – Harris Invictus Academy Croydon
- Saturday 2 October – Resource for London Centre – North London
- Saturday 2 October – Westfield’s Shepherds Bush
- Saturday 2 October – Westfield’s Stratford City
- Saturday 9 October – St Laurence Centre in Catford
- Sunday 10 October – Chelsea FC, Stamford Bridge in Chelsea
- Sunday 10 October – Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton
- Saturday 25 September – Malcolm X Centre
- Sunday 10 October – Legacy Centre, Birmingham
- Saturday 25 September – Plymouth Grove, Manchester
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