MORE than 900 people in and around York marked the festive season by donating one of the most precious gifts of all - their blood.

Before Christmas, the National Blood Service put out a major appeal for donors because of a predicted drop in its stocks over the festive season.

The latest figures show that in York and its surrounding villages, 909 donations have been made since December 18.

Blood donor nurses had been aiming to get about 830 donations from the York area over Christmas and New Year, but this was exceeded by more than 70.

Of the 909 people who donated their blood locally, 50 were new faces to the service.

Rachel Roberts, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "At a time of year when we know our regular donors are extremely busy, the local response to our appeal was amazing.

"We actually collected more donations than expected in two of the three weeks, so on behalf of patients in the region we owe them a huge thank you for finding the time to save lives this Christmas."

Across the Yorkshire region, more than 8,500 people came forward to donate their blood over the festive season. Of those, 665 were new donors.

According to the blood service, this level of donations would potentially have saved the lives of 13,500 patients.

Each donation of blood can be broken down into three parts: red cells, plasma and platelets.

Red cells are used for patients with anaemia; platelets for cancer patients having chemotherapy, and plasma for burns victims.

The number of donations in Yorkshire meant the area's blood service could respond to 22 blue light' calls for hospital patients who urgently needed a blood transfusion.

It also meant that more people in hospital were able to get a transfusion before the festive season so they could spend Christmas at home with their families.

But despite the response from the public to its Christmas appeal, the blood service said its stocks were still below "comfortable" levels.

Spokeswoman Vicki Hutchinson said: "Even if you didn't make it before Christmas, please remember that we always need new people to come forward. How about making it a New Year's resolution for 2007?"

l Hospitals in Yorkshire use about 800 units of blood every day, all of which are given by volunteers. The National Blood Service needs 8,000 voluntary donations of blood every day. To be a blood donor you need to be between 17 and 60 years old, over seven stone and 12 pounds, and in general good health. For more information, call the national helpline on 0845 7 711 711 or visit

Session dates

Blood donor sessions are being held in the Merchant Taylor's Hall, York, today from 2pm to 7.30pm, and on January 31 between the same times.

There will be a session at the Knavesmire stand of York Racecourse next Wednesday, from 2pm to 6.45pm.

In Selby, a session is being held tomorrow at the Methodist Church in Portholme Road, from 2pm to 4pm and 5pm to 7.30pm. Malton donors will be able to give blood in the Milton Rooms in the town's Market Place on February 8, from 2pm to 4pm and 5pm to 7.30pm.