THE Daily Echo is today launching a campaign to urge readers to sign up and give blood – and help save 3,000 lives.

Our Gift of Life appeal aims to recruit 1,000 new blood donors at a critical time for the NHS.

With autumn looming and predictions of more and more people being struck down by swine flu, it is vital people sign up now to build up supplies.

Although this week has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of swine flu cases, there are fears that once the cold weather hits and children go back to school the numbers could rocket – stopping people from being able to donate.

We have joined forces with the National Blood Service (NBS) for our Gift of Life appeal in a bid to build up blood stocks ready for the winter months.

Demand for blood is relentless – be it for blood needed to perform life-saving operations or to use in treatment for a variety of illnesses every hour of every day.

Swine flu This week health bosses announced a drop in the number of cases of swine flu so while numbers are low we are urging people to sign up before the sniffles hit, preventing people from donating.

Blood stocks also suffer a dip at this time of year with thousands jetting off on holiday, especially to more exotic malaria risk destinations, which can prevent many from donating for six months.

Zeeshan Asghar, from the NBS, said: “We need 1,000 new donors from Hampshire to give blood over the next four weeks.

“It’s vital that Hampshire residents come forward and give blood now, as people can’t give blood when they’ve got the flu.

“So please support the Daily Echo’s campaign and don’t leave it to someone else.

“To recruit 1,000 people in just four weeks is a massive ask but if we are successful it will make a huge difference to so many lives.”

It’s simple, takes only a few minutes of your time, yet just one donation from you can save three lives.

Every month the blood service in Hampshire, based at Southampton General Hospital, fails to meet its target to get 1,000 recruits to sign up and become blood donors.

So we are calling on all Daily Echo readers to take time out this summer to give the gift of life and donate your blood to help them achieve that goal.

Whether it’s a young child who has been run over in a road accident, a mum-to-be suffering from sickle cell disease or a dad battling cancer to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle – your blood gives them a chance of life.

Just one unit – which is less than a pint – can be used to save the lives of three people as well as to keep critically ill patients alive long enough to say goodbye to their loved ones.

It is so simple – and now is the time to step forward and take action.

Last year the National Blood Service collected 2.1 million donations from 1.6 million donors, which may sound a lot but it’s not. In reality it equates to just four per cent of the population each giving two or three times a year.

Anyone aged 17 to 65 has the potential of becoming a donor, so don’t leave it to someone else – sign up today.

Download the form and enrol

Enrol for Gift of Life.pdf