Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has issued an urgent call for churchgoers and people of faiths to become blood donors, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Donors of Black heritage are urgently needed to help patients, particularly those with sickle cell – the country’s fastest-growing genetic blood disorder.
Mr Khan, who donated blood himself at event at City Hall on Tuesday, told Premier he held a “huge” respect and admiration for church leaders and recognised their importance in encouraging people in their congregations to give blood and become organ donors.
He told Premier: “One of the things about our Christian communities is the amount of good they do for their communities.
“Think about the charity work, the food banks, homeless shelters, think about the work they did during the pandemic, making sure lonely people weren't old people weren't lonely, supporting communities…And similarly, we know churches are doing brilliant work in relation to encouraging their congregation to give blood to be organ donors.
“We know, for good reasons, many of us derive our values from our faith, and we respect and hold a huge admiration our priests, vicars, our pastors.”
Around 135,000 new donors are needed per year to meet demand with at least 40,000 new blood donors needed in London each year over the next five years to keep supplying blood for lifesaving treatments.
Mr Khan was joined by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) Ambassadors Dr Emeka Okorocha and Dr Amos Ogunkoya, and Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard.
Dr Ogunkoya, a Christian and one of the contestants of BBC's reality show The Traitors, told Premier he felt donating blood was an “easy way” of demonstrating that “faith is about caring for people”.
“It's such an easy thing to do and it demonstrates a lot of the good Christian principles,” he told Premier.
NHSBT estimates that at least 16,000 more donors of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage are needed each year to ensure the right blood is available for patients who need it.
You can listen to Mr Khan's full interview here: