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28 January 2013

Alliance backs blood and organ donation campaign

The Evangelical Alliance is supporting a new campaign which calls on the Church to increase the number of blood and organ donors in the UK.

The fleshandblood campaign, launched today, is a groundbreaking campaign which aims to profile the need for more blood and organ donors and encourage donation as an alternative way of personal giving within churches.

It has been founded as a two-year partnership between creative agency KORE and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSNT).

Sponsored by Give.net and in association with denominations, organisations and festivals including the Church of England, Salvation Army, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church, Baptist Union, Hope and Evangelical Alliance, the fleshandblood campaign marks the first time the NHS has worked alongside the Church on a national initiative of this kind.

Lorna Williamson, medical director of NHSNT, said: "All major faith groups support donation in the spirit of giving and we're excited to explore this in more detail by working with the Christian Church. 

"By raising awareness amongst its members and community about the daily need for blood transfusions and organ transplants across the NHS, we hope to banish myths, educate people and encourage blood and organ donation. Donating blood, joining the Organ Donor Register, or consenting to organ donation from a deceased loved one is a unique gift and one that can truly save lives."

Every day 7,000 units of blood are needed to meet hospital demand, with approximately 225,000 extra blood donors needed each year to maintain consistency. More than 1,000 people die each year in the UK waiting for an organ transplant. The Church, which has a long history of giving and generosity and has millions of people across the country as its members, is ideally placed to raise awareness and help to meet the need for blood and organ donation in the UK.

Krish Kandiah, executive director: churches in mission at the Alliance, said: "We are delighted to be part of the fleshandblood campaign. As Christians we are called to follow in Christ's footsteps by living lives of radical generosity. Blood and organ donation are very practical ways we can serve our neighbours and communities. We really encourage the UK Church to get behind this campaign."

This unique campaign seeks to equip individuals and churches as advocates for blood and organ donation enabling them to raise awareness of this key issue with their family, friends and community and potentially help to save thousands of lives each year.

The Rt Rev James Newcome, lead bishop on healthcare for the Church of England, said: "fleshandblood is an exciting opportunity for the Church. Christians have a mandate to heal, motivated by compassion, mercy, knowledge and ability. Extending our understanding of the central Christian themes of generosity and stewardship to include blood and organ donation has the potential to tangibly transform the giver and the receiver. The benefit to others is not only life-enhancing but can mean the difference between life and death."

By joining together to support fleshandblood, the campaign associates play a vital role in representing the Church and enabling a collaborative voice on the issue within their communities and networks. Each associate commits to raising the profile of blood and organ donation and highlighting the various ways that individuals and groups can get involved at a local level.

Bishop Newcome added: "I would encourage individual Christians and local churches to engage with the campaign as we help address an important social issue and generously serve the communities to which we belong.  Being willing to give our time, money and gifts is a significant aspect of our stewardship of what we have received. But this applies just as much to the blood that flows in our veins; and the organs that are such an intrinsic part of our bodies."