Churches up and down the UK have been challenged to become 'donor churches' and encourage blood and organ donation in their communities through a new campaign.
The call has gone out from NHS Blood and Transplant as part of its ongoing FleshandBlood campaign.
The first of its kind, the fab (fleshandblood) Church Challenge launched this week in a partnership with the Church that hopes to inspire congregations to consider blood and organ donation as part of their giving.
Approximately 1,000 people die every year in the UK as a result of organ shortage, and 7,000 units of blood are needed every day to meet hospital demand, which means an extra 225,000 extra blood donors are needed per year.
Despite these shortages, research indicates that 70 per cent of Christians consider blood and organ donation to be part of their core 'Christian giving' or are at least open to the idea of it.
Almost one in 10 Christians have given blood in the past 12 months compared to four per cent of the eligible population over the last two years, but there is still more work to be done in mobilising churches to increase the number of donors.
Campaign Director Juls Hollidge says her team have been encouraged by the number of churches who have so far got involved.
"We have seen an amazing response in the UK Church over the past 12 months," she notes.
"It has been a privilege for us to bring together the Church and NHS Blood and Transplant under the shared value of generosity, developing a partnership to encourage personal acts of generosity that could save the lives of many in our communities."
In the past year, an estimated 30,000 churches of all denominations have received information about the fab campaign, and many have taken part in raising the profile of donation. They are equipped to be long-term advocates of donation and provided with practical tools and resources to help churches donate together and generate conversation and discussion about blood and organ donation.
"What we need now is a long-term commitment that continues to support the ongoing demand for blood and organs that the NHS faces every year," says Hollidge.
In response to the introduction of the Church Challenge, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant Lynda Hamlyn has thanked churches for giving their support, saying it will bring hope "to all those who depend on our life saving work".
Reverend Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, has called the challenge "an exciting opportunity" for churches, and has highlighted the significant role the church can play "in transforming the lives of others through donation".