With its roots going back over half a century, Blood Bikes have been a feature in the UK as far back as 1969 when Margaret Ryerson and her husband started a group in London.
The concept is simple – a rapid response motorcycle charity to support hospitals, run by unpaid volunteers.
Since its inception, numerous Blood Bike groups have become active across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. There are currently hundreds of motorcyclists and others behind the scenes who freely volunteer their time to support hospitals; providing rapid transport to thousands of requests each year.
Across the UK, Blood Bikes receive requests to transport anything from whole blood (red cells), platelets, plasma, serum, surgical instruments to patient’s notes, X-rays, Human donor milk and MRI scans. These requests can range from non urgent, through to emergency life threatening scenarios.
Here in Wales, Blood Bikes Wales currently provides its services to four university health boards; Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, Aneurin Bevan, Cwm Taf and Hywel Dda stretching across South Wales from Monmouthshire to Carmarthenshire.
Health Boards use their own transportation systems to move blood supplies, plasma, documents and other items between hospitals during the day on Mondays to Fridays. Outside of these hours, between 7pm and 7am on weekdays, on weekends and on bank holidays (including Christmas Day), the enthusiastic volunteers from Blood Bikes Wales take over.
Alan Harper of Blood Bike Wales has been delivering samples by bike during the late and early hours for the past three years.
“I love being out on my bike so I thought, why not do that and do something positive for my community at the same time?”
Across the Cwm Taf area Blood Bikes Wales provide four routine collections every Saturday and Sunday between Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil and the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant with additional urgent collections when needed.
Bernard Wright, Chairman of Blood Bikes Wales said: “We’ve recently clocked up 4,000 runs between hospitals in Wales.
“Our goal is to continue to develop and maintain a professional out of hours service to help the NHS in Wales. Quite a challenge given that we are a charity and rely solely on the generosity of the public, our members and businesses in Wales.
“To help promote the charity, we’ve recently been working with media students from the University of South Wales and some of the hospitals we support to produce promotional videos.
“Fundraising is the lifeblood of all charities and it is no different for Blood Bikes Wales. We have nine bikes on the road and continuously need to upgrade and replace our fleet.
“All donations large or small are gratefully received and move us towards our goal of £12,000 for a fully kitted Blood Bike”.
Dr Esther Youd, Clinical Director and Consultant Pathologist at Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “Blood Bikes Wales do a fantastic job supporting us to provide pathology services to our patients, ensuring that routine and emergency samples are delivered out of hours.
“We are hugely grateful for their generosity in giving their time to support our patients, and we feel privileged to work with them.”
Blood Bikes Wales are launching their promotional videos today (Thursday January 21) at the Odeon cinema, Cardiff Bay.