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TheDonor

.uk o d.c o blo . w w w T OUSITE K EC EB CH R W OU

NEWS AND INFORMATION FROM THE NATIONAL BLOOD SERVICE

SPRING 2003 • FREE

NBS scientists’ breakthrough A lot to say thank you for...

How How aa new new test test is is saving saving the the lives lives of of babies babies

Zoë’s gift The The story story of of aa tissue tissue donor donor

FANCY THAT! Why Davina says “O thank you” plus everything else you never knew about blood


WELCOME & CONTENTS Hello and welcome to the first Donor magazine of 2003. Christmas and New Year were busy times for us all, you can see our starstruck Billy Blood Drop in our Christmas campaign round up on page 6, with more news from around the country on pages 4 and 5. ‘A lot to say thank you for…’ is the theme of this year’s campaign, and you can read all about it on page 3, plus details of our Special Awards. ‘In living memory of Zoë’ on page 7 tells how a family gained some comfort by carrying out their daughter’s wishes after she had died. Just what makes a good donor session venue? Janet Hewitt thought she knew – was she right? – see page 10 As donors you’ll all know what blood group you are, but do you know why? The answer to this question and much more about blood is to be found in our fascinating centre pages feature. We feature two special babies in this issue. On pages 11 and 14 find out what part donors and the NBS played before Lydia and Louis were even born. Our News Extra, page 16, tells how important blood transfusions were to Edmund Proctor and how his family are encouraging blood donation. And finally, responses to our first Donor Survey have flooded in. Thanks to those of you who took the time to complete the forms – your views really do matter! The survey aims to find out what donors think about the NBS and giving blood. The main results will be published in The Donor, so keep your eyes peeled!

In this Spring issue

Blood groups pages 8/9

Teamwork page 14

3–5 NEWS FEATURE & NEWS Latest news and stories from blood donors and recipients

6 CAMPAIGN NEWS Find out about the latest national campaign from around the UK

7 IN LIVING MEMORY OF ZOË Zoë carried an organ donor card, so when she died her parents knew what they must do

8 SECRETS IN THE BLOOD Fascinating facts about blood, plus why Davina McCall is saying “O thank you!”

10 LET’S DO THE SESSION RIGHT HERE! The behind-the-scenes story of setting up a session at a new venue

11 SAVING LIFE BEFORE BIRTH How a new test developed by NBS scientists is helping safely detect serious illness in unborn babies

12 OVER TO YOU Catch up with readers’ letters, plus health Q&As and webwatch

13 DAVE DOES IT ALL A day in the life of bone marrow panel administrator Dave Lee

14 TEAMWORK BRINGS A LITTLE SUCCESS How donors, doctors and NBS staff pulled out all the stops to get life-saving platelets to baby Louis

15 THE INFORMATION CENTRE Where to contact us with your donor queries, plus a Billy Blood Drop puzzle for the kids

16 THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF TIME

Penny Richardson Editor

Blood donations can give the terminally ill precious extra time with their families

GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? We welcome your personal stories, questions and comments. Write to Penny Richardson, Editor, The Donor, National Blood Service, West Derby Street, Liverpool, L7 8TW. Or contact us via our website, www.blood.co.uk where you can also find out more about the National Blood Service. The National Blood Service is run by The National Blood Authority which is a Special Health Authority within the National Health Service

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SPRING 2003

The cost of producing, printing and posting each copy of this magazine is less than the price of a first class stamp. The Donor is published by the National Blood Service. Reproduction in whole or part is strictly forbidden without the prior permission of the National Blood Service. NBS Project Liaison Caroline Osborne. Editorial consultancy, writing, subbing, art direction, design and production Keith Hodgson and Hilary Joseph at Ant Creative (London). Reproduction – LDPG (London). Printed in the UK by Apple Web Offset plc on paper from sustainable forests.

Find out where to give blood visit www.blood.co.uk


NEWS FEATURE

A lot to say thank you for… Every year thousands of lives are saved because of the dedication of blood donors and the people who support the world of blood donation. This is the year we want to say a very special thank you to all of them

H

ow do you say "Thank You" to the hundreds of thousands of people who help the National Blood Service either as donors, supporters or staff? Well, we thought the best way was to hold a whole series of events across the country, involving as many people as possible, to celebrate the loyalty and dedication of these people.

Calendar stars: Shamim, left, and David, above with his sister, both received bone marrow transplants. Doug, right, needed blood during two heart operations

lorry lift, transported all the equipment by hand to make sure a blood donor session continued. Then there was the person who, using contacts, championed a local recruitment drive that gained over 2,000 new donors. Plus, the brave soul who selflessly overcame a serious needle phobia in order to become a blood donor.

The ‘A lot to say thank you for…’ campaign was launched in early March in London by Sir Richard Branson and is now rolling out nationally.

New awards Current awards based on the numbers of donations will continue, recognising the dedication of our loyal donors. But for the new campaign, we’re launching two new awards. The first, ‘Supporter Loyalty Awards’, are for organisations that have supported the NBS for more than two years. They will receive a ‘Thank You’ plaque for their continued effort and commitment. The second award is for individuals and organisations that deserve extra recognition for extraspecial effort. These ‘Special Awards’ are for those who have really gone that extra mile – like the recipient and his family who ran a

More calendar stars: Nicky, above, needed skin donations and blood following an accident, whilst Jack, right, needed blood to get through chemotherapy

marathon to spread the word about the importance of giving blood; and the team who, faced with adverse weather and a frozen

Have you got a story to tell? Sarajane, left, owes her life to blood transfusions. At 14 she was treated for aplastic anaemia. Then, aged 20, She was diagnosed with another blood disorder called paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinurea (PNH). Now 34, Sarajane receives monthly blood transfusions to keep her alive. She is one of 12 recipients who have helped us say thank you, by featuring on our 2003 calendar. If you have a story, please call our Donor Helpline on 0845 7 711 711.

Become a bone marrow donor call 0845 7 711 711

We need to know about these acts of inspiration and dedication. Tell us who you think has done something very special by nominating that individual, organisation or group. Nominees could receive a Regional Special Award, and later go forward for a National Special Award. Winners will attend a high profile event in Spring 2004 where donors, supporters, recipients and staff will all come together to be congratulated and thanked.

Making a nomination Special Awards are for donors, supporters (individuals and organisations) and NBS staff. Anyone can send in any number of nominations. Remember, we’re looking for individuals, groups or organisations who have done something really special, and who might not have been already recognised through existing channels. Either call our Donor Helpline on 0845 7 711 711 or email us at special.awards@nbs.nhs.uk and ask for an application form (only one nomination per form). The nominee will be told their name has been put forward. The nominations deadline is Tuesday 30 September 2003. THE DONOR SPRING 2003

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NEWS

NEWS

Little Lekel is on the mend

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ekel Tuck’s mum Louise, knows just how important both blood and bone marrow donors are – the toddler wouldn’t be alive today without them. When he was just six-months-old, threeyear-old Lekel of Barton Hill in Bristol was diagnosed with the rare blood disorder, haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) which affects just one in 50,000 children. Lekel urgently needed a bone marrow transplant. However, a perfect match

could not be found and regular blood transfusions kept him alive until a suitable donor could be identified. Just before Lekel’s first birthday, doctors went ahead with a transplant using a non-perfect match from a member of his family. So far Lekel’s transplant seems to have been successful, however not everyone waiting for a transplant is so lucky. Mum Louise said, "Any parent knows how distressing it is when your child is ill, but I felt so helpless when Lekel was diagnosed and a match couldn’t be found. Fortunately, Lekel is now doing well, but we could so easily be in a position where we were still waiting for a match, with no idea if we would ever find one. I would encourage anyone to become a bone marrow donor because there are lots of other people and children like Lekel whose only chance of life is a transplant."

Record holder reaches 135 pints A

lan Runnette, aged 65, a chartered engineer and industrial consultant from Ningwood, Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight, has laid claim to a new island record for blood donation. Since becoming a blood donor in 1958, Mr Runette has given 135 pints – that’s 31 more than previous record holder David Mosling, aged 70, from Newport, who retired on 104! And a determined Alan intends to continue giving until he reaches 150, which

will coincide with retirement in 2007.

his

An opening to say thanks

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ess than a year ago, Paul Kelly from Leyland was fighting for his life. Paul knows that he is only alive today due to the skill and dedication of paramedics, fire crews, air ambulance crews, doctors,

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nurses, physiotherapists – and blood donors! Back in February last year, Paul fell into a mixing machine at his business in Chorley and blades on the machine severed his limbs. Surgeons worked non-stop to reattach his limbs but they couldn’t save his left leg. To say thank-you for saving his life, Paul opened the new Chorley blood donor session. He is pictured left, with donor carer Julie Watson and Harry Fishwick (right), who received 22 units of blood following an industrial accident.

Mr Runnette became a blood donor while working as a student apprentice at the De Havilland Engine Company in Edgware, Middlesex. He said: " My grandfather was one of the first ever blood donors to reach 50 pints. When he passed away the National Blood Service (NBS) sent a wonderful wreath commemorating his amazing effort. I thought, ‘That’s pretty good, I’ll try to beat him and carry on the tradition.’ I was just 20 and used to donate at the First Aid base.‘ Still a regular donor after 45 years, Mr Runnette’s commitment means he could have saved the lives of up to 400 people, more than a third of the residents of his home town!

Celebrity status for Lloyd

Two and four legs do the donating

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ot only blood donors of the two legged, but also the four-legged variety showed their support for the NBS as part of a new local initiative. Beechwood Veterinary Clinic in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire helped the NBS to raise awareness of the

first time and encouraged two of his nurses to donate as well. Luis said, “We loved the idea of this new initiative. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing one of our patients who has been really poorly getting back to its usual self after receiving blood, it’s amazing.“

need for human blood donors locally, by visiting the session with dogs that had donated or received blood. Unlike humans all dogs have the same blood group, but receive blood for similar reasons as humans do, such as surgery. Veterinary surgeon at the clinic, Luis Sainz Pardo was inspired to give blood for the

Although for Health and Safety reasons the dogs were not allowed at the donation session, they waited patiently outside and still received their tea and biscuits like any donor! Pictured above is (left to right) Melissa Sutton, (trainee veterinary nurse), Bonnie, Vikki Webb (NBS), Blue and Kerry Bailey (NBS).

‘Little miracle’ Elizabeth goes back to school

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lood and bone marrow recipient, Lloyd Scott has embarked on so many madcap schemes to help raise awareness for the NBS and CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) charity, that he has become a celebrity! Lloyd, who is a former fireman, completed the London Marathon in a deep sea diver’s suit raising £150,000 – it took him five days eight hours 29 minutes and 46 seconds! He also ran in the New York Marathon and has recently been accepted to take part in a 1,000 mile challenge which lasts for six weeks.

The action man was guest of honour at a recent Donor Award Ceremony held at a hotel in Ingatestone, Essex, and he proved to be so popular that he was signing autographs for 45 minutes at the end of the evening! But the father of three really thought he had hit the big time when he arrived to give a talk at another Donor Award Ceremony, this time in Covent Garden. Lloyd found the entrance swamped with TV cameras and reporters. Alas, they were not for him, but to cover the fire-fighters negotiations that were being held at the same venue!

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t was a proud day on Friday 8th November 2002 when Elizabeth (Beth) Morris (above centre), – a pupil at St Saviour CE Primary School, Ringley, Radcliffe – returned to school full time. Six-year-old Beth had a bone marrow transplant at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in April to treat lymphoblastic leukaemia. Because of the risk of infection following a bone marrow transplant, Beth spent the first month after treatment in a controlled atmosphere unit at the hospital, and a further five months at home where she was only able to see close family. She was sent videos and letters from classmates and her grandfather brought

her beloved pony Molly to the front window of the family home in Hollow Meadow, Ringley so Beth could see him. But now Beth has taken one of her final steps on the road to recovery, by getting back to her friends at school. Beth needed regular transfusions of blood and platelets whilst she waited for a bone marrow match to be found. Beth used to call this process ‘pinking’ as the transfusions visibly changed her complexion from pale to a healthy pink. During the initial few weeks after the transplant she also received platelet and blood transfusions at least daily to support her body until her new bone marrow began to produce blood cells of its own.

Sky watchers donate by button Right Royle Challenge reaches home straight

North East gets more blood mobiles

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Y

A better service and better sessions

orkshire and the North are due to launch two new Bloodmobiles shortly. One vehicle will be for Newcastle and the other to cover the Yorkshire area. They will complement the existing vehicle based in Teeside. This development will allow the National Blood Service to offer

greater flexibility to companies or organisations who wish to hold their own sessions. If you work for a company or organisation which would be interested in holding a Bloodmobile session, please contact us by calling 0845 7 711 711 or visit our website www.blood.co.uk.

You can find session details on BBC2 Ceefax page 465

e are always looking for new and more convenient ways for people to register as blood donors. And now Sky viewers can do just that from the comfort of their armchair. Interactive advertising on Sky enables viewers to hit the red button on their handset, which will then take them to a separate ‘digital advertiser location’ where they will be presented with more information about the NBS. This offers a simple way of

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registering interest in becoming a blood donor. Viewers don’t even have to type in their address, as the details already registered with Sky will be sent with the name and date of birth details submitted by the viewer. The viewer will then be sent a registration pack and an invitation to attend a nearby blood donation session. So keep a look out for our adverts on Sky and press that little red button!

n recent issues of The Donor, we’ve been keeping you up to date on the progress of the Donation Review. To remind you – this is a complete rethink and reorganisation of the way we collect blood. Our aim is to improve our service to you, and shorten queue times whilst still maintaining our high standards of donor and patient safety.

I

t took six months, 50 miles, several aching muscles and a whole lot of toil and sweat,

By now the postman is delivering all the healthcheck paperwork to you at home before the session. We hope this gives you plenty of time to complete the forms at your own pace. Arriving at the session with your completed form means you’ll be ready to donate much more quickly. Many changes have been introduced

but blood donor Phil Royle has finally completed his unique running challenge -

to our teams which are helping us to improve our service. One of the more visible changes is the option regular donors have to leave the donation bed immediately after giving blood - rather than the enforced rest period. You can now spend a bit longer sampling our world famous tea! Much behind-the-scenes work continues to make things even better on session - we are only at the beginning. Watch this space!

Don’t forget the Helpline number 0845 7 711 711

collecting an amazing 54 new donors along the way! Phil, from Mickleover in Derby, began ‘The Right Royle Challenge’ in May 2002, with a pledge to celebrate his landmark 50th birthday by running 50 miles in road races during the year. However, instead of collecting sponsorship money, he asked people to sign on as donors instead, setting himself a target of 50 enrolments by the end. The Challenge took in half a dozen races from London and Wales to Nottingham. By the time Phil finished his final race, the Great North Run, in October 2002, he had already beaten his target with 54 new donors recruited and rising. Pictured above left is Phil being awarded an engraved silver plate and special certificate by staff nurse Carol Bedford on behalf of the NBS, at a presentation in Derby. THE DONOR SPRING 2003

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CAMPAIGN NEWS

Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is... it’s Billy Blood Drop handing out goodie bags. On many on these visits he was joined by panto stars, who fluttered their fairy wings, waved their magic wands and helped deliver the bags and balloons. From soap stars to comedians, the visits brightened up the day for the poorly youngsters, many of whom had received blood as part of their treatment. A new year also means a new NBS calendar. This year’s calendar was based on our new campaign ‘A lot to say thank you for...’ featuring stories of recipients who owe their lives to blood, bone marrow and tissue donors. So remember to pencil in the date of your next session!

COURTESY OF HERALD EXPRESS PUBLICATIONS, TORQUAY

The end of the year was a busy one for all at the NBS, with everyone working hard to boost blood stocks over the challenging Christmas and New Year period. Stocks can dip by as much as 10% during this time as people focus on preparing for the festivities and many fall ill with coughs and colds. Fortunately, stocks remained healthy thanks to hard work by staff and the dedication of donors who gave up an hour of their time to help give someone the Gift of Life. It was an especially busy time for Billy Blood Drop who visited children’s wards at hospitals across the country

TORBAY Youngsters at Torbay Hospital couldn’t believe their eyes when stars from Jack and the Beanstalk popped in to say hello. They were even more excited when they recognised two of the stars as Brookside’s Mick Johnson (Louis Emerick) and Tad from Neighbours (Jonathon Dutton). The arrival of the handsome duo may also have had something to do with a flurry of excitement among female members of staff!

The former soap stars arrived along with fellow cast members from nearby Princess Theatre. The stars helped Billy Blood Drop hand out balloons and goodie bags, and spent time chatting with the poorly youngsters. In fact, they were enjoying themselves so much they missed their taxi back to the theatre! Pictured above is Billy Blood Drop with patients Louis Saint and Yasmin Maisey and the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk. session at the village primary school. Finally, he jetted over to Swindon to meet former Rainbow star (and friend of Zippy) Geoffrey Hayes and the cast of Dick Whittington at the Wyvern Theatre. Swindon donors turned out in force to give blood on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Billy and the cast

SOUTHAMPTON ‘Santa Billy’ had a busy Christmas in the Southern region. First, he dropped down the chimney at Southampton General Hospital to deliver presents and festive tidings to patients on the Piam Brown children’s cancer ward. After handing out sweets, gifts and Billy Beanies he jumped back on his sleigh and

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headed off to the Hexagon Theatre in Reading to meet Keith ‘Cheggars’ Chegwin and the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk. The cast posed for photographs (above) to support local donor sessions over the Christmas week. Then it was a quick hop across the roof tops to Watlington, in Oxon, where Billy opened a new donor

SHEFFIELD Shoppers had the chance to meet a Santa with a difference this year when NBS mascot Billy Blood Drop opened up his very own festive grotto (above right). Billy donned his Father Christmas outfit - complete with big white beard! - to

welcome youngsters to the grotto, which was set up in the city centre. In true grotto style, every youngster visiting Billy went away with their own Christmas present, along with a sweet and the much sought-after ‘I met Billy Blood Drop’ sticker!

STEVENAGE

Although more used to causing havoc on stage, cast members from Gordon Craig Theatre’s Cinderella took a break to help encourage local residents to include blood

donation as a New Year resolution. The cast, including Buttons – aka comedian Bradley Walsh – showed their support by joining Billy Blood Drop to mingle with shoppers in Stevenage.

wanted to say a big ‘thank you’.

Billy went along to the Floral Pavilion Theatre in New Brighton where he met Eithne Browne, Danny McCall and Norman Thomas .

THE WIRRAL In a busy month of pressies and pantos, Billy Blood Drop joined forces with cast members of Dick Whittington (below) to help promote the need for people to give blood over the challenging Christmas period.

LIVERPOOL Staff and donors certainly got into the Christmas spirit! The donor suite staff brought a traditional Christmas feel to the centre with a 'Real' fire, stockings and presents for their donors. STRATFORD EAST The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal in Stratford East, invited a few extra members on stage to help encourage local people to give blood. Billy Blood Drop and some eager youngsters from the audience joined the stars on stage for a sing-song!

Find out where to give blood visit www.blood.co.uk


TISSUE DONATION

In living memory of Zoë S

The Cansdale family knew their daughter Zoë carried an organ donor card. So when she died, they didn’t hesitate to offer her tissues for the benefit of others. Nothing can bring Zoë back, but carrying out her wishes has brought comfort to the family

ue Cansdale watched her daughter Zoë put on her crash helmet and waved goodbye to her. She was off for a 15 minute ride on her cousin’s new motorbike. Two hours later a police car drove slowly along the road where the Cansdales lived, in Hartburn, Morpeth. They had come to break the news to Sue and her husband Richard, that 22-year-old Zoë had been killed in an accident. Sue knew that Zoë had signed up to be an organ donor, but she hadn’t been carrying her card that day and two hours had passed since she died. The time lapse meant it was too late to follow their daughter’s wishes and offer her organs for transplant.

However, it wasn’t too late for them to offer Zoë’s tissues. They told the hospital that they knew Zoë wanted to be a donor, the hospital then contacted a Transplant Coordinator, who called them. Following a long talk and in full knowledge of the procedure, Sue and Richard gave their consent for any of Zoë’s tissues that could benefit someone else, to be taken. And so Zoë’s corneas and heart valves were used to help others. Afterwards a letter arrived from a six-year-old girl who had received one of Zoë’s heart valves. She told them of the new lease of life this

OLLY BALL

Zoë’s wishes

precious gift had given her. After years of illness she is able to swim, run and play with her friends. Sue says, "It gives us great comfort to know how others have benefited from what Zoë left behind, tragic as it is that she died. The little girl’s mother told us that before the transplant her daughter was very sick and couldn’t walk very far. But now she’s like any other child. This really highlights

just how important it is to carry an organ donor card."

Sue and Richard gained some comfort from carrying out daughter Zoë’s wishes

Organ Donor Register

else after their death. Richard says, "It is so important to tell your loved ones that you are a registered organ donor. It is also vital that families are asked for their consent for these vital organs and

Together with their local paper, The Journal, Sue and Richard have now launched the ‘Legacy of Life’ campaign in the North East. They urge people to enrol on the National Organ Donor Register and to tell their relatives that it is their wish to be able to help someone

Martin’s story Martin, a 28-year-old farmer, collapsed with agonising pains in his right leg. X-rays showed his thigh bone had fractured due to the presence of a large tumour, which had spread extensively in the bone. The diseased bone had to be removed. It was replaced by a section of bone donated by someone after their death. Thirteen months later, Martin was able to return to the physically demanding work that he loves on the farm. Martin says, "It was the generosity of other people that enabled my leg to be saved. As a result I can lead a normal life and continue to do what I love doing. Thank you."

Register as an organ donor call 0845 60 60 400

It is vital that families are asked for their consent for these vital organs and tissues to be given for the benefit of others tissues to be given for the benefit of others. If you don’t, then you are letting that person down by not respecting their wish." If you would like to register as an organ donor you can pick up a donor card and leaflet at any blood donor session or visit www.nhsorgandonor.net THE DONOR SPRING 2003

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BLOOD GROUPS

BLOOD GROUPS ● Only identical twins have exactly the same blood type ● About 5% of Americans are members of the AB blood group – including John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe ● Apes have exactly the same four blood types as humans ● The Rhesus blood group (Rh) was named after the Rhesus monkey it was first detected in ● Duelling is legal in Paraguay if both parties are registered blood donors ● Almost every Peruvian is blood group O ● Mr. Spock’s blood type is T-negative – perhaps that’s why it’s green! ● Some people believe that you can loose weight by tailoring your diet to suit your blood group

From the left: Elvis Presley, Prince Charles, Al Capone and Charlie Chaplin all have something in common (See main text)

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hat do Elvis Presley, Prince Charles, Al Capone and Charlie Chaplin - not to mention around 26 million people in Britain - have in common? Well, they are all blood group O - the most common blood group in the world. As a donor you’ll have been told your blood group – O, A, B or AB. But did you realise what an influence your blood group may have on you? The famous geneticist Steve Jones’s book In the blood describes how researchers have measured the heart rates of people of different blood groups while they listened to

Secrets in the blood Are you moody? Or eccentric? Ambitious? Do you love Bach? Perhaps it’s down to your blood type. The four groups A, B, AB and O could be responsible for a lot more in our lives than we think music. They found that group As were attracted to harmony, Bs to rhythm, Os to melody and ABs liked all three (especially Bach)!

It’s in the blood In Japan they attach particular

The blood grouping system Every blood cell carries on its surface a number of chemicals, (proteins and antigens) the combination of which make up your blood group. There are over a hundred different blood groups, but fortunately very few are important to know and only then when you require a blood transfusion or if you are pregnant. The key ones to know about are the ABO and Rhesus groups. The ABO blood grouping system was discovered by Dr. Karl Landsteiner. He was the first to realise that not all blood was the same. Landsteiner later discovered another type, Rhesus. If you have it, you’re Rh

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positive – if not, you’re Rh negative. And so was born the blood grouping system – and the eight blood groups – which are so familiar to blood donors everywhere. Landsteiner realised different blood types would react differently to each other, making some groups compatible and others not. So while O negative, known as the universal blood group, can be given safely to anyone, O negative donors can only receive their own specific type. And so it goes on (see table right). Complicated stuff – no wonder Landsteiner won the Nobel Prize for discovering it!

importance to blood groups. On the island of Miyajima, there’s a special post box with four slots, each marked with a different blood group. For a few yen you can put your hand in and pull out a fortune written according to your group. So, if you’re A you’ll discover you’re conservative and cooperative, Bs will find out they’re eccentric, Os, relaxed, ambitious, but poor on detail, and AB types moody and standoffish! As and Bs should avoid each other as partners, but either would be happy with an AB partner. Os should stick to their own type, and steer clear of Bs. Japanese couples planning to marry sometimes ask each other

their blood group. In business some offices even attempt to get the right blend of blood groups to ensure working harmony! But why do we have different blood groups at all, and how do we get our particular type?

The science bit Blood type, like hair, eye or skin colour, is inherited. Everyone inherits two ‘blood type’ genes one from their mother and one from their father. So you have two blood type genes, the combination of which gives you your blood group. The A and B gene are called ‘dominant’ genes as they always win over the O gene.

Who can give blood to who? PATIENT B Pos B Neg AB Pos AB Neg DONOR O Pos O Neg A Pos A Neg O Pos ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ O Neg ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ A Pos ✘ ✘ ✔ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✘ A Neg ✘ ✘ ✔ ✔ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✔ B Pos ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ B Neg ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ AB Pos ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✘ AB Neg ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✔ You can see that all blood groups can receive ‘O Neg’ and only ‘AB Pos’ can receive blood from any group.

You can find session details on BBC2 Ceefax page 465

However, neither the A or the B gene are dominant over each other. If your blood group is A, you can only possess one of two combinations of genes A&A or A&O. If your blood group is B you also can have only one of two gene combinations, B&B or B&O. If you are a member of blood group O you can only have two O genes. If your blood group is AB your genes will be A&B. But why, if O is so easily dominated, is it the most common blood group worldwide? The answer lies in the genes. A study carried out showed approximately seven out of ten people in this country carry at least one O group gene. So the chances of two O group genes being inherited from your parents becomes much higher than inheriting say two B's. That is why in this country, 47% of the population will be a member of the O blood group.

Back in time Where did these different blood groups come from? In the same way that people, cultures and languages change from country to country, so do blood groups. This means that some types are more common in certain ethnic and

national groups and, despite the fact these groups become more mixed as people move around the globe, it’s still possible to see how blood groups differ from population to population. The O group is the oldest of the blood groups. Back in the Stone Age, everyone would have been O – and today it’s still the most common

group in the UK, especially in the North of England. Over in Central and South America and the USA most people are O too. The fact that anyone can receive O blood reflects the fact that all other blood groups are derived from it. Group A is the second oldest blood group, appearing around 25,000 - 15,000BC, when larger human settlements first appeared as farming developed. You’ll find a lot of A in Central and Eastern Europe. It’s the commonest group in Norway, Denmark, Austria, Armenia and Japan. If you’re looking for group B,

then try the Chinese or Asian communities, where around a quarter of all people share this blood group. It emerged between 15,000 and 10,000BC as tribes migrated from Africa to Europe, Asia and the Americas and mingled with other populations. The newest and rarest group, AB, only appeared between 1000 and 500 years ago, and is believed to have occurred as a response to the mixing of existing blood groups on a major scale. In Japan, China and Pakistan around 10% of the population boast this rarest of blood groups. Amazing!

A special thank you TV’s Davina McCall is the famous face behind our new blood group video. The video features personal testimonies from blood recipients across the country, whose lives have been saved by blood transfusion. They all have the same clear message for blood donors everywhere ‘Thank you’. The video is sent to O group donors whose blood is especially useful, because it can be used for patients who don’t necessarily share the same blood type. The video has been received very warmly. In particular, many donors commented how lovely it was to hear the stories of so many patients who would not be here if it weren’t for blood donors such as themselves. Please remember that we are tremendously grateful to every donor, whatever their blood type!

Don’t forget the Helpline number 0845 7 711 711

CARLTON TELEVISION

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Did you know?

THE DONOR SPRING 2003

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DONOR SESSIONS

Let’s do the session right here!

J

What makes a good venue for a donor session? Janet Hewitt thought her Lincolnshire village of Metheringham would be the ideal place, but would the NBS team agree?

anet Hewitt has been a blood donor for 15 years but wanted to do more than simply donate blood. She thought that Metheringham, the Lincolnshire village where she lives, would be a great place for a donor session and so she phoned the Donor Helpline. Janet says, "I knew lots of donors had to travel miles to give blood, so I thought it would be great to have a session here in our village." Janet’s timing was perfect. Lincolnshire had already been

Putting the word out

Metheringham scored highly on all points. It’s a growing village with at least 4,500 people and over half its residents are between 16-59 years old, many of them already donors. The developing residential areas around the village suggested a growing base of potential future donors. The nearest sessions were at least six miles away – a definite

10 THE DONOR

SPRING 2003

discouragement for donors. So, the location looked good. What about the village hall? The

Happy with the session: Janet, right, with Helen Shepherd, left, and Jane Higginbottom from the NBS

Publicity was vital, and the NBS began advertising to the wider community through schools, shops, the library, the GP’s surgery and other local facilities in Metheringham and the surrounding villages. Local newspapers and radio were targeted, and the session appeared as a newsflash on the Metheringham website. The session, held on Thursday 29th August 2002, was a huge success. Janet and her team of volunteers handed out tea and biscuits and helped the team to deal with the the steady stream of donors. By the end of the day 141 donations had been taken – 51 from new donors. But that is not the end of the story. The NBS have 5,600 venues nationwide, which are constantly re-evaluated to make sure they are in just the right place for donors. The work just doesn’t stop!

Drop us a line Drop boxes, (shown right at a supermarket in Essex), are an essential tool in our donor recruitment drive. They are unmanned freestanding recruitment tables that can be left in supermarkets, libraries, shopping malls, office canteens, leisure centres, colleges and schools. In fact anywhere with lots of people walking past. We are always looking for new places to leave these drop boxes, so if you think you have a great spot we would love to hear from you. Just call 0845 7 711 711 during office hours, and ask to be put through to your local Marketing Department.

DAVID TOTHILL

Full marks

AL McCAFFREY

Publicity was vital, and the NBS began advertising to the wider community through schools, shops, the library, the GP’s surgery and other local facilities identified as an area with great potential by the NBS research team, and a dedicated collection team for Lincolnshire was just being set up. Lynne Moulder from the NBS says, "Janet’s call came just at the right time and it confirmed once again to us that setting up the new team was the right thing to do. With calls like this it was clear donors wanted more choice of sessions in the area." First the team had to establish if Metheringham was a suitable location. Was it close to other sessions? How many donors, new and old, would it attract? Would it be easy to promote the session to residents, and how would they feel about the new venue?

NBS looked at its size, the parking, access for vehicles and equipment, plus facilities such as drinking water and other health and safety aspects. The venue passed with flying colours, and a session was booked for the following August. Out went the invitations to all Metheringham donors.

Find out about starting a sessions call 0845 7 711 711


RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Saving life before birth There’s not much NBS scientists don’t know about blood. Now thanks to their pioneering research, a new test for lifethreatening Rhesus disease is giving vulnerable babies like Lydia a fighting chance

Hospital, Bristol. The new baby, Lydia, needed two blood transfusions at 32 and 34 weeks, and was delivered early at 36 weeks. She is now 5 months old, and other than regular check-ups for low haemoglobin, is a bouncing, healthy baby.

New test for future

W

A long road

NICK DIGGORY

12 hours of unbroken driving would be needed to travel between our most distant sessions

and then extracting DNA from the foetus – a risky procedure because it can occasionally lead to a miscarriage. And the small amount of foetal bleeding it causes can trigger an even bigger antibody attack from the mother’s blood, and that can be fatal for the baby.

Better test Enter the clever NBS scientists. Working at the International Blood Group Reference Laboratory (IBGRL) based at Bristol, scientists have recently devised an important new type of test for identifying the blood group of a foetus. Geoff Daniels, who leads the Molecular Diagnostics team there explains, "The new test can measure the very small amounts of the unborn baby’s DNA that is found in the mother’s blood. So by taking a sample of her blood we can determine the baby’s blood group, and act accordingly." The new test showed Tara’s baby was indeed Rhesus positive. Alarm bells rang, and Tara was

Tara and baby Lydia both benefitted from the new test

referred to the specialist Foetal Medicine Unit in St Michael’s

Cutting edge research The NBS is very proud of all its research scientists, who work behind the scenes to improve patient care for the future. This year one in particular has been truly honored by receiving the prestigious, world acclaimed 'Jean Julliard Prize' for his outstanding contribution to research in transfusion medicine. Dr Nick Watkins, 31, is one of only 21 people in the world to win this award, from the International Society of Blood Transfusion Medicine, and only the second person from the UK. Nick won the award for his research looking into the detailed molecular structure of platelet proteins and their antibodies. It’s work that will lead to better blood and platelet matches for patients in the future.

Become a platelet donor call 0845 7 711 711

THE DONOR SPRING 2003

11

HR PHOTOGRAPHY

hen Tara Carr was expecting her second baby she knew there might be problems. Tara is Rhesus negative, which means her blood can produce antibodies that attack and harm the blood of any Rhesus positive baby she may carry. She explains, "I’d already had a little boy, and during his birth his Rhesus positive blood affected my blood. It meant I began to produce the antiD antibody. This attacks Rhesus positive blood." It was therefore important that doctors knew the blood group of Tara’s second baby. A Rhesus negative baby wouldn’t be a problem, Rhesus positive would. But finding out the blood group of a tiny foetus is not easy. It involves putting a needle into the womb

The test has important potential for diagnosing – without risky needles – other blood conditions that can affect pregnancy, such as beta thalassaemia. There are also plans to use this technique to test foetal DNA from all Rh-negative pregnant women, about 100,000 per year. This will mean that the 40% of women carrying an Rh-negative foetus will no longer have to receive unnecessary preventative therapy during their pregnancy. This is just one of a number of key breakthroughs that the NBS scientists are involved in. With research facilities in Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol to name just a few, our scientists are making discoveries all the time that could, as with Tara and Lydia, transform the treatment of patients. Watch this space!


OVER TO YOU

Last issue’s front cover What’s Hugh Laurie doing in a video about blood safety? He’s probably being handsomely paid for it! MR A J BOLLISTER BREWOOD, STAFFS.

Editor’s response I am very happy to reassure you that all of the celebrities who appear in any publicity for the NBS make no charge for their time. Some celebrities, such as Heather Mills and Gary Linekar, have a personal reason for appearing. Others, like Davina Mc Call who has just fronted a new video for us, are happy to give us a few hours of their time free, as they know they are helping to make an important difference.

Pushing the age barrier I have been donating blood in the Merseyside region since 1958. I understand that once a person reaches the age of 70 they can no longer donate blood. It would appear to me that as the health and lifespan of the population in general is increasing significantly, that we should now look at a more flexible alternative to

putting an upper age limit for the donation of blood. I would suggest that an annual medical certificate issued by one’s own GP would be sufficient to ensure that there is no risk to the donor in giving blood. From a personal viewpoint I have never had any reaction whatsoever from donating blood so I think it a shame if in August 2005 I would have to ‘hang up my boots’.

then. However, these age limits, as well as all other criteria for selection of donors are under constant review, and so a further change to the age limits cannot be ruled out.

MR W R D WATERS PARBOLD LANCASHIRE

Thanks to the ‘B’ team

Editor’s response The upper age limit for blood donors was only extended about 5 years ago so that healthy regular blood donors can now continue up until the age of 70. For a few years before that concessions were made for individuals to continue beyond the age of 65, on confirmation from their own doctor that they were still in good health. We still regard the upper age limit of 70 as being appropriate, as it is really only the exceptional blood donor who is still able to continue to make regular blood donations until

BELLY-BUSTERS Why did Billy take up acting? Because it was in his blood!

Being in a minority as a group B donor, I often wondered if there’d be much demand for my blood. My father always thought he was group O so I assumed that the B had been inherited from my late mother. In August, my father, then 86, was suddenly diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer. He opted for an operation, and to my surprise he received six pints of B blood! Unfortunately, he only lived for two

more days, but the blood gave him and our family precious extra time, and made him feel better. So, thank you to all B donors, and yes, you are valuable. JULIA WILLIAMSON PLYMOUTH

Donors of the future I’d like to thank the staff at the Haywards Heath donation centre who are always so tolerant of my children. I could not donate if I couldn’t bring them along. My four children have been coming along since they were strapped in pushchairs and staff have always found time for them. My children are getting the message that it is important to help other people, even if we don’t know who those people are. SUE MINTER HAYWARDS HEATH Due to shortage of space not all published letters are printed in full. Whilst we welcome your letters, we cannot guarantee a reply or to publish them. However, any complaints raised will be responded to via our complaints procedure.

WEBWATCH

IS IT TRUE THAT... We answer some of your questions about donating

Q

Q

A

A

I want to organise a talk for my local youth group about blood donation – how do I go about it? The NBS can provide informative talks for groups, schools and colleges. Go to our website and fill in the enquiry form there, or telephone our donor helpline for details. I gave up smoking at Christmas and I am using patches, will I still be able to give blood? Yes, probably. If you suffer from any symptoms as a result of quitting, we suggest you give blood once those symptoms have passed. Most patches, nasal sprays and gum do not prevent you from giving blood but bring them along to the session and show the nurse or doctor before donating.

Q A

12 THE DONOR

SPRING 2003

I sometimes take tranquillisers. Does this prevent me from giving blood? The session medical staff will need to see what medication you are on, so bring it with you. The nurse or doctor may have a quick chat with you about your medication and any underlying condition, but in the vast majority of cases tranquillisers do not stop you from giving blood. I suffer from varicose veins. As blood is carried around my body through my veins am I able to give blood? Providing you are otherwise fit and healthy you are still able to be a blood donor, and donating will do you no harm. However, if you are awaiting surgery or have recently had surgery this may temporarily exclude you.

Q A

TIME OUT Have you been to visit blood.co.uk recently? It has become very popular with over six thousand visitors a day. We have sections on tissue donation, bone marrow donation, as well as lots of information. In fact there’s everything you want to know about blood. There are two very popular sections, the session searcher, where you key in your postcode and up pops your nearest session, along with a map for you to print out. Also, have a peek at the new look 'fun zone'. Here you can find downloadable screen savers and wallpaper for your own PC or Mac. There is an interactive educational area called 'the bloody bits' based on the Nick Arnold books, where you can find out all about blood in a fun way. And don’t miss some great games and quizzes for all age groups. Try your hand at 'Bacteria Bash' where you can help Billy save Betty Bone Marrow from the evil Baron Bacteria. Can you beat ‘MAC’ on his/her high score of 7,248,100?

Find where to give blood visit www.blood.co.uk

ANSWER TO BILLY SPOT THE DIFFERENCE PAGE 15: LIGHTHOUSE STRIPES, FLAG ON BUOY, CLOUD, BILLY’S SHORTS, SMALL BOAT, FISH

This is your chance to tell us your news, views and interesting or unusual donor stories. Write to Penny Richardson, Editor, The Donor, National Blood Service, West Derby Street, Liverpool L7 8TW


MY LIFE: David Lee BONE MARROW PANEL ADMINISTRATOR – BRISTOL

Looking after bone marrow donors is a surprisingly complex business, but variety is definitely the spice of life for Dave Lee

D

ave Lee may have only joined the NBS as a Bone Marrow Panel Administrator a few months ago, but there’s no doubt that it’s the job for him. Dave, based in Bristol, is responsible for looking after bone marrow donors every step of the way and he loves it. Today, Dave arrives in the office at nine and checks the answer machine. There’s a message from a donor who may be a possible match for a patient and they want to discuss the necessary blood tests. Dave returns the call and runs through a health questionnaire just to check the donor is fit and well. The donor is taking medication and Dave needs to check with a doctor that a donation will still be possible. Everything is fine and the blood testing kit is posted out. A courier is arranged to collect the blood samples from the donor’s GP later in the week.

Making donors welcome Dave is due to meet another potential new donor at eleven for a medical and counselling, so with time to spare, he gets on the phone. He needs to book theatre space and an anaesthetist for a

Dave does it all forthcoming bone marrow removal. The donor and his wife will also need hotel accommodation – another call. Then it’s back to the admin. The tissue laboratory in Bristol, one of three in the country, can tissue type up to 13,500 samples a year – which means a lot of donor information needs to be fed into the computer. So, any spare

moment sees Dave tapping data into the ‘HITS’ computer system. The new donor arrives on time for her medical and counselling. "I try to put people at ease," Dave says. "We have a quick chat and a coffee, before I take them to meet the medics. The donor also has a few queries about her expenses form, which I can explain." At lunchtime, Dave, a seasoned

Return match

marathon runner, slips into his shorts and goes for a five mile run – now that’s true commitment! Back at the office he freshens up before visiting a donor who is making a lymphocyte donation via an ‘apheresis machine’ (see box) at the nearby donor centre. Dave explains, "Sometimes patients need a ‘top-up’ from their original donor if they start getting poorly. This gentleman gave his first donation more than two years ago, but he is back to help again."

The best part of the job

ST IVES TIMES & ECHO

Gary Stephens, pictured right, has been selected twice as a bone marrow donor. Gary says, "I was gob-smacked when I got a call at work saying I was a match again. It was only a few years after my first bone marrow donation." Gary didn’t hesitate to go ahead though. "I just kept thinking that if my little boy needed a life-saving transplant I’d hope others would do the same." Gary made his first donation under general anaesthetic. The second time was a stem cell donation, extracting lymphocytes from the blood by machine, a process known as apheresis. Says Gary, "I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I’m sure more people would register as donors if they knew how nice all the staff are and how easy and straight forward the procedure is."

Above: Dave makes sure a bone marrow donor feels comfortable

Don’t forget the Helpline number 0845 7 711 711

Dave’s last job today is to visit a bone marrow donor who was in theatre earlier that day. "This is a really rewarding part of the job," enthuses Dave. "You build up a relationship with the donors and it’s nice to go and see them when it’s all over. They may be a little bit sore, but they are usually proud that they could have helped save someone’s life." Dave leaves for home pleased with the day’s work and wondering who he’ll meet tomorrow. THE DONOR SPRING 2003

13


NBS TEAMWORK

Teamwork brings a ‘little’ success A tiny unborn baby and a Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend presented a challenge to the NBS. Could we manage to collect, test and deliver on time the life-saving platelets the baby needed?

A

manda Maclaren was beginning to despair that she’d ever have a baby. She’d already had eight miscarriages before she and partner Lee lost their ninth child due to a massive bleed into the brain at a very late stage in pregnancy. Doctors suspected some kind of immune response problem, and took samples from the young couple and sent them to the NBS Laboratory in Cambridge for tests. Tests showed the presence of a platelet antibody in the mother’s blood and a corresponding antigen present in the father’s, a condition known as Neonatal Allo-Immune Thrombocytopenia. This means the baby’s platelets carry antigens inherited from the father that the mother’s immune system recognises as foreign. The mother’s immune system then attacks and destroys the baby’s platelets. Fatal

haemorrhaging is often the result. Amanda and Lee’s only hope of a child was for any future baby to undergo a complex and risky series of platelet transfusions – whilst still in the womb. After counselling, Amanda and Lee decided to go ahead, and so for the tenth time Amanda became pregnant. She said: "It was worrying, but you do whatever it takes."

Special help She sought specialist help from the Fetal Medicine Unit at King’s College Hospital in London. In the 20th week of pregnancy, the baby’s blood showed a platelet count of just 13 – a normal count is 150 – so a transfusion was vital. The unborn baby now relied on regular transfusions to survive, and during the next few weeks nine specially matched, ‘accredited’ donors (see box) gave platelet

The winning team: Top left and right: NBS staff from the donor suite, laboratories, issues and transport, and above, Amanda, Lee and baby Louis

donations. The baby needed 13 transfusions in total. These specially matched donations must be used within 24hours. This posed a real problem over the four day Jubilee Bank Holiday as, unlike normal bank holidays when only some of our

Blood donors with a difference Tiny patients such as Louis and very ill patients with low immunity may need blood from ‘accredited’ donors. Only donors whose blood has certain characteristics are suitable. The NBS tests all blood donations for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and Syphilis, but in addition screens a limited number of selected donations for one particular virus, Cytomegalovirus (CMV). This virus is harmless to healthy adults but stays in the blood after infection and is potentially fatal to

14 THE DONOR

SPRING 2003

seriously ill patients. Donors who are CMV negative can provide blood for these patients. These donors are also tested for antibodies to red cells, white cells and platelets. Only a small number of donors from any blood group will have the right antibody profile, and are therefore able to become accredited donors. For example, only one in ten thousand ‘O’ negative blood donors has just the right combination to become ‘accredited’.

staff work, everyone involved in the donation process needed to be available. It’s a long list that includes the donors, staff in the donor suite, staff in the donation testing laboratory, the blood components laboratory, plus people at blood issue and transport departments. They all needed to work during the Bank Holiday to get these units to the hospital in time. But they did it.

A healthy boy On 14 June at just 31 weeks, a healthy baby boy, Louis, was born at Kent and Canterbury Hospital. He was a dream come true for new parents Amanda and Lee. Louis doesn’t know it yet, but he’s here because of the efforts of dozens of people all working towards the same goal. Donors, all the staff at the NBS in Cambridge and Brentwood, the Foetal Maternity Unit at King’s Hospital and of course all the staff at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

Become a bone marrow donor call 0845 7 711 711


NBS INFORMATION For all your enquiries the Donor Helpline number is

0845 7 711 711 ALL CALLS ARE CHARGED AT LOCAL CALL RATE

If you need any information about giving blood, just call the Donor Helpline and staff will answer your queries on:

KIDS PUZZLE CORNER SPOT

DIFFERENCE

• • • • • • •

Where you can give blood locally Whether you are able to give blood Your donor session details Becoming a bone marrow donor How to become a platelet donor Medical aspects of giving blood How travelling abroad might affect you giving blood • Any other general donor matters Remember, you can call the Helpline to tell us if you have moved house or changed employers – we don't want to lose you! Our Donor Helpline is open for general enquiries 24 hours a day, every day of the year. DON’T FORGET BBC2 Ceefax page 465 will give you details of the next two days’ blood donor sessions in your TV region.

Permanent Blood Donor Sites If, for any reason, your local donor session is no longer suitable, then it may be more convenient for you to attend one of our permanent Blood Donor Sites. Please call the Donor Helpline to find out the details of the centres listed here:

Answers on page 12

LONDON

Edgware, Tooting, West End

SURNAME

NORTH

Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield

Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss

NORTH EAST Newcastle-upon-Tyne

FIRST NAME

NORTH WEST Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester

DATE OF BIRTH

MIDLANDS & Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Oxford, SOUTH Stoke-on-Trent

ADDRESS

/

/

SOUTH EAST Luton, Cambridge, Brentwood SOUTH WEST Bristol, Gloucester, Plymouth, Southampton

We always need new donors. So please, if you are not a donor, fill out the coupon opposite, place it in an envelope and send it to National Blood Service, FREEPOST, 75 Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 7YB, or call 0845 7 711 711 now to enrol as a blood donor.

POSTCODE DAYTIME PHONE No

To give blood you need to be in good health, aged 17 to 60 and weigh over 7st 12lbs/50kg. Please send this coupon to the address opposite.

MO6

I would like to join the NHS Blood Donor Register as someone who may be contacted and would be prepared to donate blood. I understand that the National Blood Service (NBS) or its partners may phone, write or otherwise contact me with details of local donor sessions. I agree to the NBS holding my personal details on their donor database and processing this information as necessary for the proper administration of the NBS

You can find session details on BBC2 Ceefax page 465

THE DONOR SPRING 2003

15


NEWS EXTRA

E

Norma Proctor, son-in-law Roger and their family are thankful to donors for giving their father extra years of life

dmund Proctor opened his optometry practice more than 25 years ago. Edmund was a family man married to Norma, with twin daughters Justine and Rebecca. Edmund also loved being a grandfather. He was the second generation of his family in the business and had overcome the problems caused by dyslexia to achieve top-level qualifications in his chosen field. He led a busy working life, and actively promoted his profession. Edmund was equally busy away from work. A member of the Freemasons and the Magic Circle, he also found time to learn to fly light aircraft.

Rare illness In 2000 Edmund developed the illness ‘Systemic Mastocytosis’. This rare bone marrow disorder, described by his daughter Justine as "like a big allergic reaction", meant he could not produce his own blood and needed three units of blood every two weeks, just to survive. During the course of his illness Edmund underwent trial treatments for the A rare bone marrow disease meant Edmund need disease. He became something of an authority regular blood transfusions to survive. There was no on his condition through cure for Edmund’s illness, but the extra years of life the Internet - and his blood gave him was a very precious gift courage symbolised his there were only about 30 cases in fighter – not the sort of person to determined approach to life. the whole world. My father had wallow in self-pity." Daughter Justine explains, "It's good and bad days but he was a The whole family have become a very rare condition. We were told blood donors as a result of their father's illness. "You don't realise Everyone knows blood is literally a lifesaver for those who’ve been the importance of giving blood in an accident or need it to help survive treatments and operations. until you're in a situation where But for some, whose illness has no cure and that last battle they face somebody you love needs regular just can’t be won, a blood transfusion can help to improve their transfusions. It was dad who quality of life during their final months, weeks or even days. started us all donating. I'm not Karen Clarke, a Community Nurse who gives transfusions to the keen on needles but it doesn't terminally ill in their own homes, says, "These vital transfusions give hurt," says Justine.

their regular invitations to donate blood. The session was the day after their father died. Despite their sad loss they all kept their appointments. Justine continues to spread the word about donating blood to patients at the practice in Kidderminster, with enrolment leaflets always to hand. Rebecca, a GP in nearby Bromsgrove ensures that posters and leaflets are displayed at her surgery. They know the difference that the regular blood transfusions made to their father. But the family wanted to help more and contacted the NBS. In December they spearheaded the local Christmas appeal, telling their father’s story in the local newspaper, urging people to become blood donors. Edmund’s family said, "We would like to thank all

The precious gift of time

Why blood is vital even for the dying

16 THE DONOR

SPRING 2003

DIDYOU KNOW? 24 old Wembley Stadiums would be needed to seat all our donors

Starting a campaign Sadly last November, after a two and a half year battle against the disease, Edmund died. In the previous week Justine, Rebecca and son-in-law Roger had received

Become a bone marrow donor call 0845 7 711 711

NICK DIGGORY

patients a better quality of life. It gives them the energy and ability to enjoy this precious, final time with their families." But this time is often a gift that only blood can provide. In some serious accidents, its use can mean that a critically ill patient can stay alive long enough for their loved ones to reach the hospital to see them, one last time. Priceless.

blood donors; without your help Eddie’s life would have been so much shorter. It costs nothing to be a blood donor, only your time, and one day your family or friends may find themselves in a similar situation, relying on blood to give them some more time."

The Donor - Spring 2003  

NBS scientists’ breakthrough - How a new test is saving the lives of babies. Zoë’s gift - The story of a tissue donor. FANCY THAT! Why Davin...

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