HOSPITAL bosses are urging more black people to give blood after figures revealed a major shortage of donors.

Manchester's NHS Blood and Transplant needs 620 new donors to help patients with sickle cell, a condition that mainly affects black people.

People from black African, black Caribbean and mixed heritage backgrounds are more likely to have the rare Ro blood subtype that is vital to treat sickle cell - a disorder which requires frequent blood transfusions.

If left untreated the condition can cause extreme pain, life-threatening infections and other complications such as organ failure, stroke or loss of vision.

The rise in patients and increase in transfusions to treat the disease has seen demand for Ro blood soar by 80 percent over the last three years.

Anyone from Greater Manchester can donate blood at two dedicated centres, at Norfolk House Donor Centre, Brown Street, and Plymouth Grove Donor Centre, Plymouth Grove.

Jayne Peters, NHS blood and transplant haematology consultant at Manchester Royal Infirmary, said: "More and more black people in Manchester are saving lives by donating blood but there is still a shortage of donors."

“People from similar ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have matching blood but the shortage of black donors means more donors with similar blood are required to ensure the patients with sickle cell disease in Manchester continue to get the best matched blood.

"Black people are ten times more likely than white people to have the vitally important Ro blood subtype, which is key for treating sickle cell disease. Sickle cell is a serious genetic disease that affects the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.

“The patient's blood cells form into a sickle or crescent shape and they get stuck in blood vessels. Patients with sickle cell disease can have acute episodes of severe pain.

“Sickle cell disease can also cause worsening sight, organ failure and stroke; the complications can be fatal. Blood donation is quick, easy and safe. You will save lives - and feel proud.”