Fewer than five per cent of blood donors who gave blood in the last year were from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Yet 1,000 people in England – mostly people from Asian backgrounds – suffer from a disease called thalassaemia that affects red blood cells, requiring regular blood transfusions from donors of a similar ethnic background to stay alive.

We simply do not have enough donors from Asian backgrounds and so this National Blood Week – and as a south Asian myself – I am urging all Asian communities to consider donating blood. Eastern Eye readers have a huge role to play in this and I call on you to consider donating. I recently gave blood and it was a quick and painless process and doing so may just save a life.

As we mark National Blood Week, it’s important to remember the history of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), the NHS blood service which has been saving and improving lives for over 75 years.

With the first blood donations taking place over 70 years ago, it marked one of the greatest miracles of modern-day science, culminating years of research to improve people’s health. Since then, thousands of blood donors, many from Asian backgrounds, have stepped up and are playing their part in the 23,000 blood collections a year happening in communities across England.

We need all communities to work together to save and transform the lives of thousands of people and this week I’m urging you to visit one of the Blood Donor Centres across England to find out your blood type and if eligible, make their first donation.