PEOPLE in Huddersfield were today urged to give blood as a special Christmas gift.

The National Blood Service says blood is needed to save and improve the lives of patients whatever the season, but blood needs to be collected more than usual during the festive season.

This is to ensure that blood is available for patients throughout the holiday.

Blood is needed to help treat various illnesses, accidents, emergency incidents, and post childbirth complications.

Platelets and blood are taken from blood units and are used regularly for patients who have cancer and serious blood disorders.

At this time of year there is a 10% drop in collection as people are busy in preparing for Christmas and avoid coming out in the winter cold, but the demand for blood never stops.

This is the time of year when there are more accidents due to the bad weather.

Healthy blood stocks are particularly crucial at this time because while whole blood lasts for 35 days, fragments of cells in the blood called platelets last only five days.

Reduced numbers of sessions over Christmas and New Year may mean that is could be difficult to supply fresh stocks to hospitals.

Vicki Hutchinson, Communications Officer for the NBS, said: "Patients see blood donors as gifts.

"A number of patients will not be fortunate enough to spend time with their family but with your help prior to Christmas, many patients will have the gift of spending Christmas at home with their loved ones."

Rachel Roberts, also of the NBS, said: "At this time of year we really do need everyone to make a special effort to give blood.

"Your kindness could mean the gift of life for a patient."

Anyone aged between 17 and 59, weighing more than 50kg (7 stone 12 lbs) and in general good health is a potential donor.

Details of how to become a donor and where the nearest sessions are being held can be had on 08457 711 711 or

* The NBS collects approximately 2 million units of blood each year from 1.3 million blood donors

* The NHS needs 8,000 voluntary donations of blood daily

* Only 5% of the eligible population are active blood donors

* A unit of blood is measured as 470mls (or just under a pint)

* Whole blood donors can give every 16 weeks, or three times a year

* Regular blood donors can keep giving up to 70 years

* There are 4 main blood groups: O, A, B and AB.

* Group O is the most common and is therefore the most in demand.

* Over 95% of the blood collected is processed into its main components: red cells, platelets, and plasma.

* A regular supply of blood is vital. Red cells last only 35 days and platelets only five days