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Stars back blood donation campaign

Celebrities including Gary Lineker, Sarah Beeny and Jayne Torvill are backing a campaign urging people to give blood.

Eight well-known faces, each representing one of the major blood groups, are encouraging donors to join the NHS Blood and Transplant's Team Give Blood campaign ahead of major events this summer.

The campaign aims to boost blood stocks by 30% above usual levels ahead of the Olympic Games.

Football pundit Lineker, TV presenter Beeny, ice skating star Torvill, Olympic skier Graham Bell, Radio 1 DJ Greg James, Countdown star Rachel Riley, Radio 1Xtra DJ Twin B and former Apprentice contestant Saira Khan are the captains of the team for each major blood group. They will be using their own social media profiles to encourage the public to donate.

Jon Latham, a spokesman for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "This year we need donors more than ever before because major public events can disrupt regular donations and we have extra visitors to the UK to prepare ahead for.

"We know our regular donors feel a strong sense of team spirit and positivity about their contribution to the health of the nation, so this campaign will help capture the national spirit of 2012 and ensure we are well prepared for the summer's festivities."

Former footballer Lineker will captain Team O-, the universal blood type, which can be given to people of any blood group. James will captain Team O+, Khan will be captain of Team A-, Riley will head up Team A+, Twin B will lead Team B- and Beeny will captain Team B+.

Olympic gold medallist Torvill will be captain of Team AB-, the rarest blood type in the UK, while fellow Olympian Bell will be captain of Team AB+.

Regular donors often miss appointments during national events and celebrations as routines are disrupted so the NHS is keen to build up reserves. The high number of international visitors expected this year with a different native blood mix to our own may also put high demand on specific blood groups.

Blood is used to help treat health conditions including cancer and long-term illnesses, trauma incidents and maternity care. Hospitals across England and North Wales need 7,000 units of blood every day and each unit saves or improves the lives of three patients.

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