MORE blood donors are needed as the National Blood Service gears up for a busy May Bank Holiday period.

Extended weekends put extra pressure on blood stocks.

Laura Summers, the service's communications officer for Yorkshire, said it was vital that blood donors helped out over the two bank holidays in May.

Billy Blooddrop, the service's mascot, is helping to drum up support.

The service is also facing further pressure following the restriction on blood donors introduced by the Government Health Department.

New guidelines state that people who have had blood transfusions since 1980 can no longer give blood. Miss Summer said the service estimated it would lose about 3% of donors nationally.

So it was now more important than ever for new donors to come forward and ensure there was a reliable supply of blood in hospitals.

Donors need to be aged between 17 and 60 (17 to 70 for regular donors), in general good health and weigh more than 50 kilograms (about eight stone).

Anyone wanting to give blood should call the National Donor Helpline on 0845 7711 711 or log on to


* There are four main blood groups - O, A, B and AB. Group O is the most common and therefore most in demand.

* Anything from 9,000 to 10,000 voluntary donations may be needed daily by the NHS.

* Only 6% of the eligible population are active blood donors.

* Donors can give three times per year.

* At the most productive blood donor session in the country, 70 blood donations are made every hour.

* The smallest community to host a blood donor session is Hugh Town in the Scilly Isles, with a total population of less than 1,500.