SOUTHAMPTON men are being urged to start donating blood due to a "serious imbalance" in the gender of donors.

During 2019, only 44 per cent of the new donors in Southampton were men.

Until the end of November, 465 women from Southampton started donating blood in but only 376 men.

The NHS Blood and Transplant has said that the lack of male donors is a "concern" because men have higher iron levels, and only men’s blood can be used for some transfusions and products.

Without more men starting to give blood, blood stocks will come under increasing pressure in future years.

Throughout January, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is running a national campaign about ordinary men becoming extraordinary by donating blood, and Southampton is one of the target areas for new male donors.

NHSBT is aiming for 48 per cent of all new donors in Southampton to be male during 2020.

Mike Stredder, the head of donor recruitment for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “All our donors are amazing.

"But we need more men to start donating blood in Southampton during the New Year. Men’s blood can be used in extraordinary, lifesaving ways, but we don’t have enough new male donors coming forward.

"This is not about recruiting as many donors as possible – it’s about getting the right gender mix.

“If you can’t find an appointment right away don’t worry – your blood will do extraordinary things if you donate in a few weeks instead.”

Men have higher iron levels which means when they donate they’re less likely to be deferred for low haemoglobin levels.

That helps maintain a strong donorbase, which is particularly crucial for people who need hundreds of even thousands of transfusions over their lifetime.

As well as this, women can produce antibodies during pregnancy, even during short pregnancies they don’t even know about.

Antibodies are part of the body’s defence system and they make transfusions more difficult.

This means men’s blood is only used for some specialist transfusions and blood products.

Only men’s blood is used for complete blood transfusions in newborn babies, and also for plasma, which is used for people who’ve had massive blood loss.