The Search for the World’s Most Important Missing Letters: A, B and O – National Blood Donor Week

Signs throughout the UK have had letters removed from them to highlight the need for new blood donors.

Signs throughout the UK have had letters removed from them to highlight the need for new blood donors.


You may have unwittingly noticed that shop fronts, public services and renowned streets have removed the letters A, B and O from their signs. The absence of these letters is no coincidental error, in fact they have been removed to raise awareness of National Blood Donor Week.

As you may know, there are four main blood types, A, B, AB and O. The NHS’s Blood and Transplant service have set an idea in motion in order to find new blood donors by asking businesses and organisations to drop the letters from their signs. In recent years Give Blood have recorded dwindling numbers and lost 204,000 donors who are now unable to give blood.

The clever PR stunt highlighting the donors that are missing has been picked up by the likes of Odeon cinemas, Green & Black’s, Waterstone’s and even Downing Street. All of whom have removed the significant letters from their signs and taken pictures of their signs attaching the hashtag #MissingType to any social media post.

Blood Donor Numbers Have Dropped by 40%

In the last decade numbers of blood donors have dropped by 40%, each of the businesses involved in the stunt are doing so to raise awareness of the need for new donors. In a press release the NHS stated that:

“120,000 less people attended a donor session to start donating blood in 2014/15 compared

to 2004/5. Regular donations are crucial to saving and improving the lives of patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery.”

Coinciding with this year’s National Blood Donor Week, 8th-14th June, the missing letters represent the many thousands of missing donors. Jon Latham, Assistant Director for Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant was quick to note that the reduced numbers could affect supplies in the future:

“We simply can’t ignore the fact that there has been a stark reduction in the number of new donors coming forward ‐ a trend seen across the world.  While we can meet the needs of patients now, it’s important we strengthen the donor base for the future.

 “We know that people’s lives have got busier over the last decade. People are working longer hours, commuting further, spending more time online and have less time of their own, despite more options of how to use it.  Good causes are also competing increasingly for people’s attention and time.”

Factors for the the low numbers include the popularity of travel to exotic countries and tattoos, which can restrict people from donating in the short term.

How You Can Help

Giving blood is a truly incredible thing to do, and it’s time to buck the decline in donors. To find out if you are eligible to donate, head to and register as a donor, you could book an appointment today.

Jon Latham added one final point:

“Giving blood is simple and easy to do and will only take about an hour of your time. It could literally be a matter of life and death for somebody else.”

To show our support of the campaign, -penh-use have taken the letter O from our name on twitter and we’ve also made an infographic to highlight the #MissingType, which you can see if you click below.