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Facebook adds new feature to encourage blood donations in fight against coronavirus

The Independent logo The Independent 16/09/2020 Adam Smith
a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by The Independent

Facebook has launched a new partnership with the NHS in order to encourage more people to donate blood during the coronavirus pandemic.

Launching across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, people between 18 to 65 can sign up to receive notifications about opportunities to donate blood at local centers.

It will be promoted on the news feed, or if users search “blood donations” on the social media app.

Donation centres will also be able to make posts specifically calling for convalescent plasma donations, which are urgently needed from people who have recovered from coronavirus.

The antibody-rich plasma can be transfused into those who are struggling to develop their own immune response.

In England alone, almost 5,000 blood donations are required to meet the needs of patients.

The campaign is hoping to attract more male donors, as male blood generally contains fewer antibodies, as well as more people of Black heritage – of which make up only two per cent of donors in England.

"It's a priority for us to make it easy for people to know when and where their nearest blood donor sessions are, so we're really pleased that the new feature enables users to do this," said Zeeshan Asghar, national partnerships manager for NHS Blood and Transplant.

"There are priority groups of people that we need to become the next generation of life-savers and we're really hoping people will use the new feature and donate."

The feature first launched in other parts of the world in 2017, including the US, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Taiwan, Niger, Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan

Facebook says it has helped to recruit more than 70 million blood donors globally.

It is expected to roll out to the rest of the UK "soon", the social network said.

"The need for donors never ceases, and we have seen in the past few months how blood products can be used to treat those seriously ill with coronavirus.” Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement.

"This new tool makes donations even easier, with donor centres sending notifications through Facebook to let people know when they can give blood in their area."

Additional reporting by agencies

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