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EMERGENCY DOCTORS How London Air Ambulance saved Jamie

A new kind of life-saver Treating patients with cord blood stem cells

Rock and roll! The new machines helping sessions to speed up

TISSUE DONATION The gift that can transform so many lives The gift that can transform so many lives


In this Spring issue 3 TISSUE DONATION Donated tissue is a life-saver for patients like Francis

6 A CHANCE IN A MILLION Doug Miller nearly died of a rare blood disease

7 ROCK AND ROLL! Our groovy new kit is helping to cut session times


Emergency doctors page 8

When motorcyclist Jamie Morley came off his bike at Brands Hatch, the London Air Ambulance came to his rescue



A typical day for testing manager Josie Jackson at our Bristol laboratories

Meet Moji Gesinde, our leading expert in component donation. She talks about her work with donors and patients



How donated cord blood is helping patients with serious blood disorders

Dick Unsworth likes a challenge. So a childhood accident that took away one hand hasn’t stopped him from fulfilling his dreams




Catch up with readers’ letters plus health Q&As

Giving blood can be a real family affair

Many people think that blood is mostly needed by those who’ve had accidents, like three of the people featured in this issue. We may be thought of as just the blood service, but there’s so much more to us than simply blood. Doug Miller, on page 6, needed plasma exchanges when a life-threatening blood disorder struck. This procedure, carried out by our nurses, saved his life. And its not just blood and its components – red cells, plasma, white cells and platelets, that can help to save patients lives. Last November I received a letter asking me to put an article in the Donor magazine about tissue donation. The letter was from a mother whose 20-year old son had died suddenly, just eight weeks earlier. His family knew he carried an organ donor card but assumed it was too late for him to be a donor as he had already died.


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 email us at Or contact us via our website, where you can also find out more about the National Blood Service. The cost of producing, printing and posting each copy of this magazine is less than the price of a first class stamp. The National Blood Service is run by the National Blood Authority which is a Special Health Authority within the National Health Service.




Cord blood donations page 14

Another challenge for you! Plus up-to-date information

They discovered that it wasn’t too late to donate tissues and their sons’ corneas, skin, heart valves and bone were donated. His mother felt that hilighting tissue donation would help those who need tissues and also bring comfort to other bereaved families. Her letter went on to say how distressed they would have been if they had been too late to offer the donation. And that knowing their son had helped others had helped them as a family to cope with their loss. Take a look opposite at page 3 to find out about tissue donation, what to do if you want to be a donor, and how one child’s life was saved with the help of donated tissue.

PENNY RICHARDSON – Editor NBS EDITORIAL TEAM: Ruth Greenaway, Vicky Smith, Lyndsay Stewart, Rachel Roberts and Charlotte Pearson. NBS Project Liaison Caroline Osborne. 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. Editorial consultancy, writing, subbing, art direction, design and production Keith Hodgson and Hilary Joseph at Ant Creative (London). Reproduction – Portland Media (London). Printed by Apple Web Offset on paper from sustainable forests.

Find out where to give blood visit


Another kind of donation


very year, donated organs such as hearts, kidneys and livers save hundreds of lives. But organ donation is only possible in very particular circumstances. Tissue donation is different. Unlike organs, tissues such as skin, bone, tendons and heart valves, can be donated up to 24 hours after a person’s heart stops beating. Also, for some tissues, the donor’s age isn’t so important. However, their medical history will still be reviewed in a similar way as for a blood donor, to make sure the donated tissues can be safely used. Many people can donate tissue after their death and their tissues could provide transplants to help up to 30 patients. Donated bone, for example, is used for grafts for patients having hip replacements; donated skin helps to treat severe burns victims,

Donated organs are life-savers, but did you know that donated tissues can also make a real difference to the lives of seriously ill patients? while donated tendons can repair serious ligament damage. Corneas can restore the sight of up to two people. Finally, donated heart valves offer a chance of life to many heart patients. Specially trained nurses and staff in our Tissue Services team work closely with key personnel from a wide range of organisations including the police, A & E departments and the Organ Donor Transplant Co-ordinators. These people, working on the front line, are often the ones who broach the subject of tissue donation with bereaved families. If someone has expressed a wish to donate tissues, one of our specialist nurses will talk to the

bereaved family members and give them more information. If they want to go ahead, they will be asked a series of questions about

the donor’s medical history to ensure that the donated tissues are as safe as possible to give to a patient. If everything is alright, the tissues are collected by a specially-trained team and taken for processing and storing at the nearest tissue bank until they are needed.

Talking to your family Talking to your family about donation after death can be hard. Yet many families who have given permission for organs or tissues to be donated say that knowing their loved one has helped save and improve the lives of other people is a great comfort to them. If you are considering donating your organs or tissues after your death, make sure you discuss your wishes with your family. You can also join the NHS organ donor register; carrying a donor card makes it easier to raise the subject of donation with your family, who must also give their permission before any organs or tissues can be used. For more information on donating organs, contact UK Transplant on 0845 60 60 400 or visit

The gift that saved Francis we wish we could say a special thank you to the parents who donated one of their baby’s heart valves. We will never meet them, but without their bravery Francis would not be here with us. They are real heroes and their willingness to help others has shown us there is true kindness and goodness in the world."


wo-year-old Francis Pape was born with two holes in his heart and needed immediate surgery. Unfortunately it wasn’t a success, and doctors decided that his only hope was a further, very high-risk operation. So at just three-weeks-old, Francis had more major surgery. He received a donated heart valve to replace his weak one. Also a device was inserted to close the gap between the chambers of the heart and a small pacemaker was fitted. During the operation he needed several blood transfusions. Now a lively toddler, Francis is developing normally. He will need more surgery as he

Liz, husband Brian, Bethany, Curtus and Francis, top left, in hospital after Francis’ birth. Francis, below, is now a playful two-year-old. The family, left, together again

grows, including the replacement of his donated heart valve with larger ones. His mum Liz says, "Francis has had so much help from so many people since he was born – everyone from the medical team to blood donors. We are so grateful to all of them. But especially

Be a tissue donor call the helpline 0845 7 711 711




Changes to your Donor Health Check I

Max Beesley with his father, jazz musician Maxton Beesley

Max goes for a pint with his dad! S

taff and donors at Manchester Blood Centre recently received a surprise visit from actor Max Beesley. The 32-year-old star, on a break from filming a new series of the BBC drama ‘Bodies’, was accompanying his dad, jazz drummer Maxton Beesley, a regular blood donor at the centre on Plymouth Grove in Longsight, Manchester. Maxton says, "I’ve been giving blood for

years, and I used to take Max along with me when he was little. He’s been down here a few times and the staff all know him, so whilst he was home for Christmas he was happy to come along and say hello." Max says, "Dad has always been a really committed blood donor so I’ve grown up knowing how important it is. I’ve done it a few times myself and it doesn’t hurt, in fact I’d encourage everyone to do it."

n April we will be introducing a new ‘Donor Health Check’ questionnaire. Due to a change in the EU rules about malaria testing we need to amend some of the travel questions we ask you. These changes will not affect your actual donation; however, you may find you are answering ‘yes’ to one question every time you come to give blood. Please don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you cannot donate any more. It just means we have to carry out a test on your donation. A further change involves

the administration boxes we use on the donation record side. This change is related to the additional tests we introduced over the last six months. Both these changes are necessary in order to make sure that the blood we provide to patients is as safe as possible. Unfortunately, this means if you bring the old questionnaire to a session on or after 4th April this year, or the new one before, we will have to ask you to complete the correct one at the session. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and we hope you will understand.

New Year’s Honour for Chief Executive

Getting onside for donation W

e’ve gone into partnership with the County Football Association (CFA) in South Yorkshire with the aim of getting footballers, officials and FA staff across the area involved in giving blood and raising awareness of blood donation.

The CFA oversees all amateur football clubs in South Yorkshire which comprise 4,000 teams and around 100,000 players, officials, staff and other volunteers. The scheme has been given the personal backing of CFA chief executive James Hope-

Gill, whose son Timothy received many blood transfusions before losing his battle against a rare genetic disease. James is enthusiastic about the partnership, "I’m keen that we do all we can to work together to encourage people to enrol as blood donors. It is a tremendous thing to do,” he says.


artin Gorham, Chief Executive of the National Blood Authority (pictured above), has been

Merger ahead for NBS

England hosts the day W T

he National Blood Service, is hosting this year’s World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) on June 14. Karl Landsteiner, discoverer of the ABO blood group system, was born on this day 137 years ago. The theme is "Celebrating the gift of blood" and there will be special events taking place across the country and around the world.



"WBDD provides a splendid opportunity to raise awareness of the need for blood and blood donors. We are honoured to host this event," says Mike Fogden, Chairman of the NBS. Last year’s inaugural launch of WBDD took place in South Africa and was supported by high-profile figures including Nelson Mandela.

e are merging with UK Transplant as part of a drive by the Department of Health to improve services to patients. This is part of the Arm’s Length Body review which you may have read or heard about in the media recently. The merger, expected to be completed by October this year, will create a new organisation, NHS Blood and

Transplant (NHSBT). The two organisations will pool their skills, resources and experience to help save and improve patients lives. Of course, NHSBT will continue to depend on your generosity to ensure patients receive the blood and bone marrow they need. We will update you about any developments in the next edition of The Donor.

honoured with an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. Martin, who previously worked for the London Ambulance Service, has been honoured for his services to the NHS. He says, "This came as a big surprise. When I saw the letter from Downing Street, I thought how pleasing it was to have my career in the NHS recognised in this way. “I think it is particularly satisfying to receive the award whilst I am Chief Executive of the NBA, as it reflects the combined efforts of everybody in the service and donors together to meet the needs of patients throughout England and North Wales."

You can find session details on BBC2 Ceefax page 465


We’ve got the golden touch


ome of our campaigns have caught the judge’s eye recently. Our ‘Lifeblood’ series of programmes, featuring Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis and broadcast on channel Five, won an award for the best campaign in the public sector category at the 2004 Campaign Magazine Media Awards. Judges commended the way the series went outside normal advertising routes to deliver the "Give blood" message. Meanwhile, at the Direct Marketing Association awards, we picked up a gold

for our postal campaign to 17year-olds, encouraging them to enrol as first-time donors. There was also a bronze for a leaflet delivered door to door, which urged people to give blood at their local session. At the National Customer Service Awards 2004, our Milton Keynes team reached the final four in the ‘Customer Services Team of the Year’ in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare category. All-in-all we have done very well, and it is great to be recognised in this way.

Olympic medal winner supports ethnic drive

New blood donor from Supergrass


anny Goffey, from the band Supergrass, recently followed a family tradition by signing up to become a blood donor. Danny, pictured above centre with one of our recruiting team, was with his two sons visiting the London Dungeon and found time

to sign up at a blood donor recruitment event. He says, "Both my parents regularly give blood but I’ve just never got round to signing up. I’m really happy to be helping maintain our blood stocks and I know my Mum will be very proud." We think so too, Danny!

John Peel

I Olympic medal-winner Mark Lewis-Francis gives support to donor carer Rachel Weston and friend Mohammed Bashrat

and neighbour, community warden Mohammed Bashrat, who was giving blood. Mark also found himself busy signing autographs for donors, local school children and staff!

Don’t forget the Helpline number 0845 7 711 711

8 6 4

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AB pos


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2 B pos

we need to be sure that we can collect enough at the sessions before, during and just after the bank holidays. So please, if you are due to donate at this time, do try to keep your appointment. You can check our blood bank levels any time by visiting and clicking on the home page link. The graph on the right shows how many days’ supply of red cells there was for each group at the time of going to press.

A neg

hanks to your continuing support, blood stocks remain healthy. We’re now planning our sessions for the Easter Bank Holidays, and we know we can count on you to help us meet patient needs. As usual, fewer sessions over the holiday period will put pressure on our platelet stocks. Almost two thirds of the platelets we send to hospitals come from regular blood donations. Platelets have a shelf life of only five days, so

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Blood stocks update


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lympic gold medalwinning athlete Mark Lewis-Francis called into his local blood donor session in Darlaston, West Midlands, to support the ethnic donor recruitment campaign run by local community wardens in the area. Mark, part of the victorious 4x100m sprint relay team in Athens last summer, was supporting his friend



t was with great sadness that we learned of John Peel’s sudden death. John was a tremendous supporter of giving blood and gave his time freely to film one of our new TV advertisements. After filming, John continued to support us, and only a few weeks before his death he featured in an extensive newspaper article about giving blood. Sadly, we’ve decided to withdraw from our TV campaign John's very personal story about his wife’s need for blood, because we feel that broadcasting it would be insensitive to both his family and his many fans.



RECIPIENT STORY a plasma exchange. He was put on a cell separator machine. This removed his diseased plasma and replaced it with healthy donated plasma. But it wasn’t one simple exchange for Doug. After the first plasma exchange it looked like Doug’s brain might have suffered irreversible damage. He was given more treatment during the night to give him the best chance of responding.

A lengthy stay

A chance in a million

It took seven days and 84 bags of plasma before he regained consciousness. Waiting for Doug to respond was an agonising time for Tula and the rest of the family. "When Doug was on life support, I didn’t want to leave him. I just remember thinking that as long as I was with him, holding his hand, he wasn’t going anywhere." Doug needed a further 343 bags of plasma, plus chemotherapy and steroid treatments to suppress the

Doug Miller was seriously ill with a rare blood condition. It was a race against time to save him


hen Doug Miller began to get a headache one afternoon back in April 2002, he took some painkillers and assumed it would pass. Instead it became so bad that Doug and his wife Tula went to his GP - and that’s the last thing he remembers. Seven days later he woke up in Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, wondering how a mere headache had got him there. Doug’s wife told him that he had actually returned from the doctor’s fully conscious, despite him having no memory of it. Tula recalls, "Around tea time, I noticed that Doug was slurring his speech. During the evening his condition worsened so I took him up to bed. At 4am Doug collapsed

so I called for an ambulance. Looking back it was an extremely distressing time and knowing now how close he was to death, I can’t believe how we got through it. I guess that at the time I just went into automatic pilot."

Looking for clues At the hospital, Doug’s breathing stopped and doctors were up against the clock to find out what was wrong. They sent a blood sample to the haematology department to see if that would offer any clues. Tests showed Doug had a very low platelet count. From this, and other symptoms, the consultant on duty that evening, Dr Sylvia Benjamin, diagnosed Thrombotic

The machine that does it all


cell separator machine takes whole blood from a patient and spins it at high speed until it separates into its components: red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. When treating patients, the machine removes just the part of the patient’s blood that is diseased and replaces it with healthy, donated, blood components. The machine is also used for component donors. It separates the donor’s blood into its components, takes the part that we need – usually platelets – and returns the rest to the donor.



Top: Doug with Dr Sylvia Benjamin and Anja Tusold, Nurse Manager. Above: with his wife Tula

Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP). TTP is an extremely rare, sometimes fatal, blood condition that affects just one in a million adults. The disease affects the plasma – the fluid part of the blood - and makes the platelets in the blood clump together and form small clots. These usually occur in the blood vessels of the brain and kidneys, causing fever, headache and confusion, all the symptoms that Doug was displaying. As more clots form, the platelet count falls – this was the clue that Sylvia spotted. Doug’s only hope of survival was

TTP. In the seven weeks Doug was in hospital, he was hooked up to the cell separator for 130 hours. Doug says, "I felt like it was never going to end." Although a relapse is possible, Doug doesn’t spend too much time worrying about it. He’s full of praise for the team that treated him. "So many people contributed to saving my life, from all the staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital to the donors that provided me with the plasma. To this day, I am totally overwhelmed and extremely grateful." Now Tula, encouraged by Doug, has become a blood donor on his behalf. As he says, "My account is well overdrawn!" See story page 10

Give before you go on holiday call 0845 7 711 711


Rock and roll! T

he blood you donate can’t just be put in a bag and sent to hospitals. In a matter of minutes your donation will start to clot. Which means it’s no use for patients. So to prevent this, every blood pack contains an anti-clotting agent. To work properly, the agent needs to be mixed with your blood at the bedside. Until now, this mixing was done by hand by the donor carers looking after you. They had to gently rock the blood pack every 60 seconds to keep your blood well mixed with the agent. This was a time-consuming job and made looking after more than one donor at a time difficult.

When our Southampton West team were asked to try out some new whole blood agitator machines, they were so impressed that they refused to give them back!

Other benefits The agitators have other advantages too. They can be programmed to keep tabs on a donor’s blood flow rate and donation time, and the donation is

“It seems you

A better way Now we have new, batteryoperated agitator machines to do the same job. A gently rocking tray alongside the bed will automatically mix your blood with the anti-clotting agent as you donate. With the new machines taking care of this task, donor carers can safely look after two donors at once, which should mean shorter waiting times. It was at a company session in Hampshire that an under-strength Southampton West team really saw the benefits that the new machines could offer. As team manager Diana Carr explains, “We were four staff members down, and had already faced problems on previous visits with people having to wait too long to donate. Without the agitators, we could only have manned four

are happy with the new set-up too. In fact, compliments have gone up since we started using The yellow tray gently rocks and mixes the anti-clotting agent with the donated blood, freeing up the donor carer to safely look after two donors at one time

beds. With an anticipated 140 donors, it would have been all but impossible to take all their donations. The machines allowed us to see twice as many donors,

Stop the clot!


agitator trial the team refused to give them back – now they’d seen how quickly a session could run, they never wanted to go back to the old way! The trials were so successful that we decided to kit out all our teams with the machines. Watch out for these new machines at the side of your bed when you next give blood.

he new piece of kit onto which we put your blood pack is doing a vital job. Blood clots soon after it leaves the body, but back in 1914 scientists discovered that adding sodium citrate to blood stopped it clotting and preserved it. Then scientists found that adding glucose as well as sodium citrate allowed blood to be stored for several days if it was refrigerated. Today, our blood packs contain all the things needed to keep the

with the same number of staff. This meant that the waiting time was reduced significantly.” By the afternoon word had got round as to how well the session was running. Donors who were not going to give, because of long waits at previous sessions, came in to donate. Although that should have been the last day of the

cells in your donation in good condition for up to five weeks. There’s saline which helps to keep the blood liquid, adenine which provides energy, glucose which is the fuel for this energy, and mannitol which keeps the cells in shape. The new rocking trays make sure that, in every donation pack, all these ingredients are well mixed with the blood. The added bonus is that the new trays free up our donor carers to look after more of you because they no longer need to do the time-consuming mixing themselves.

Become a platelet donor call 0845 7 711 711

the agitators.“ automatically stopped when it’s complete. That means donor carers don’t have to bend over so much to make these checks, which is better for their backs! It seems you are happy with the new set-up too. In fact, compliments have gone up since we started using the agitators. People do appreciate the quicker donation times, and many donors are very impressed with the extra information we can now give them, like their blood flow rate. We’re also making sure that we still give one-to-one care for new donors who may feel nervous. It’s clear that something is ‘stirring’ on session, and it looks like being good news for both teams and donors alike. SPRING 2005 THE DONOR



Emergency doctors Jamie Morley owes his life to the London Air Ambulance team. We go behind the scenes of this unique emergency service


opes were riding high last summer for promising young motorbike racer Jamie Morley, who was competing in the National Superstock Championship at Brands Hatch in Kent. Then disaster struck. Minutes after the race started, Jamie had to swerve to avoid a crash, and fell off his bike. To his horror, as he lay on the track, another motorbike hurtled towards him. Jamie, 31, who lives with his girlfriend Emma on Hayling Island, near Portsmouth, says, "I could see the whole track in front of me and the motorbike, which had lost its rider, came straight towards me. I was still conscious but after it hit me, I knew I was really seriously injured because I couldn’t feel my legs."

The LAA ready for action on top of the Royal London Hospital

– taking the hospital toth through the soft tissue of his buttocks and had come out of the other side. He was losing massive amounts of blood. I had to realign his pelvis to try and reduce this life-threatening blood loss."

Specialist help Trackside doctors assessed him. Jamie had truly appalling injuries and was bleeding heavily. He needed immediate specialist treatment. The doctors decided to call London’s Air Ambulance (LAA), also known as the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), for urgent help. The LAA service is unique, with its onboard specially trained trauma doctor and paramedic. As well as treating a casualty at the scene, they can anaesthetise and give potent pain relief – procedures normally undertaken only in hospital emergency rooms. The care delivered by a doctor in those critical first minutes, combined with the speed of the helicopter, can make a profound difference to patients’ chances of survival and their long-term future.



Race to hospital

Above: Jamie today with Emma

Dr Sabeena Qureshi was flown to Jamie’s side. Normally the LAA only flies inside the M25, but, she says, "Because his injuries were so

critical, we flew outside the area to collect him." She found Jamie had serious spinal, abdominal and pelvic injuries. She was also really concerned about his blood loss. "Jamie’s pelvis had been pushed

Sabeena managed to reduce Jamie’s bleeding and put him in a pelvic splint. But Jamie needed to get to hospital fast. Sabeena decided to fly Jamie to the Royal London Hospital, where highly skilled orthopaedic surgeons could quickly operate on his pelvis. Jamie was rushed into theatre and received over ten units of blood. He was gravely ill and medical staff feared he would not survive the first night in hospital. His girlfriend Emma says, "I saw Jamie at the track when he was first taken to the medical centre, but when I got to the hospital and the doctor explained his list of injuries, I couldn’t even bear to look or listen.

You can find session details on BBC2 Ceefax page 465

AIR AMBULANCE When I saw him later in hospital, he looked so awful, it was very frightening. After the first operation, the doctors told me that Jamie had 24 hours to fight for it. It was a tense time." The internal bleeding continued and Jamie received many more blood transfusions whilst doctors carried out further operations. Jamie says, "I spent four weeks in intensive care and was heavily anaesthetised, but one of the first things I remember from when I woke up was having a blood transfusion. Over the course of the next few weeks, my stomach was taken in and out of me five times until I finally stopped bleeding. All this time I was losing blood and was reliant on donated blood to replace my own. My stomach remained open for some time until they could put a skin graft over it. It was pretty horrible looking down at that."

Sabeena has kept up-to-date with Jamie’s progress. "Jamie had a very difficult first few weeks but he made a slow, sure recovery. I didn’t know whether I would ever see him walking again and was delighted to see him becoming mobile so quickly," she says. Jamie also has a message for blood donors. "My girlfriend and her mum recently went along to

Another flight After eight weeks, Jamie was moved to Chichester General Hospital to be nearer his family and Emma, who had been staying in London. But because he was still in

e patient

a critical condition and needed high dependency medical care, the LAA team were called in to fly him to Chichester. Eight months on, Jamie has returned home and is now a day patient at Chichester. He has some nerve damage in his legs and is awaiting an operation on his

Above: Jamie with some of his trophies that he won motor cycle racing. Above right: at the track

stomach, but he is feeling lucky to be alive. "I certainly owe my life to the LAA team. Without them I don’t think I would be here today. I have said a big thank you to Sabeena and the team."

LAA – the facts ● London’s Air Ambulance (LAA) – also known as the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) – recently celebrated 15 years of treating London’s most critically injured patients. The service operates from a helipad above the A&E department at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and is unique in the UK. ● The distinctive red LAA helicopter flies seven days a week in daylight hours, and makes approximately 1000 missions a year. It is airborne within two minutes of receiving a call and can reach anywhere within the M25 in 12 minutes or less. ● Only one third of patients treated are brought back to the Royal London Hospital. The rest go to either a local hospital or specialist centres, particularly Kings College Hospital which also has all major specialists on site ready to treat badly injured patients. ● There is a fast response car that carries an LAA doctor and paramedic when the

helicopter cannot fly or is unavailable. Due to funding, it currently operates only three nights a week. ● Typical patients treated by the LAA service are pedestrians who have been hit by cars, crash victims or people who have been injured falling from buildings. ● Trauma patients are met in the Accident and Emergency department at the Royal London by a full trauma team. The team leader is generally a consultant general

Become a blood donor call 0845 7 711 711

donate blood. This accident has certainly made us all realise just how much blood is needed by patients. I think I have had my fair share of blood! Thank you to the many blood donors who ensured there was enough to pump back into me when I needed it." Jamie adds that for now, he will be steering clear of motorbikes and concentrating on getting himself back to full health.

surgeon, senior registrar or an Accident and Emergency senior doctor. The aim is for the patient to be investigated and treated in the shortest possible time and for definitive treatment to be started within one hour of the accident. This is the so-called "golden hour" – the time immediately after an accident when a patient’s chances of survival are highest. ● If a major incident such as a train crash or bombing occurs, LAA can fly teams of doctors and paramedics to attend patients at the scene as well as airlifting them to hospital. LAA has attended train crashes at Paddington, Southall, Hatfield, Potters Bar, Cannon Street and Moorgate and bombing incidents at Bishopsgate, Canary Wharf, Soho, Brick Lane and Aldwych. ● The service is funded by the NHS with additional corporate sponsorship and charitable funding. To support London’s Air Ambulance call 020 7943 1302 or email christine.margetts




Blood is so interesting! Well it is for Moji Gesinde who achieved her dream of becoming a doctor and is now our National Lead Consultant for Component Donation and Therapeutic Apheresis in Leeds. She talks about her work

up to three adults. Normally when we take platelets from whole blood we have to put together four donations to get enough to treat one adult. Cell separators can also be used to obtain stem cells - special cells in bone marrow that make all types of blood cells. Donated stem cells are vital for treating many blood diseases. We can give injections to stem cell donors that make them produce extra stem cells. These can then be taken from their blood using a cell separator.

Why did you decide to become a doctor? I can remember exactly the moment I decided to become a doctor! When I was eight I fractured my wrist and a young, handsome doctor set it in plaster for me. I remember thinking it was a wonderful thing to do. Also, it was always my father’s wish that I become a doctor.

So you already had an interest in blood. When did you start working for us? In 1988 I went on a transfusion medicine course at Sheffield Blood Centre. It was a revelation. As a hospital doctor, you order blood and it just arrives. You don’t always think about what happens behind the scenes. I was fascinated, and realised I could have a whole career in transfusion medicine. After that, I started looking for a job as a senior registrar with the NBS. There were only five jobs that trained you for a career in transfusion medicine in the country at the time, but luckily I got one in Manchester. What is your job now? I’m now the National Lead Consultant for Component Donation and Therapeutic Apheresis, based in Leeds. I run the specialist component donation and patient treatment centre at Leeds, as well as taking responsibility for




Where did you train? In Nigeria. I did a first degree, got married and then started my postgraduate training in haematology. My husband and I decided we wanted to travel the world and we eventually ended up in the UK, where I continued my haematology training. I’ve always had a connection with the UK - my father studied and worked in London for a while, and I lived here until I was about five years old.

How can cell separators help to treat patients? Our cell separator machines can be used to take out virtually anything from the blood. I was woken at 6:30am recently with a call about a six-month-old baby who had just been diagnosed with a form of leukaemia which causes the body to produce excess white blood cells. By 9.00am we were in the hospital with a cell separator, removing the extra white cells so that treatment could begin. This reminded me that although I’m lucky to work with healthy donors a

Dr Gesinde always finds time to check on her patients, pictured right with Matthew Barker

developing national policies and procedures in my area of expertise. What is component donation? In our clinics, we have special machines called cell separators. These can be used to take out red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma from blood. Component donation involves taking blood

components such as platelets from a donor. We can also use the same method to remove abnormal cells from a patient’s blood. Why is component donation so important? Our cell separator machines can take enough platelets from one donor in a single donation to treat

lot of the time, I’m still a doctor who helps patients. You must work hard. How do you relax? I love cooking and food, and go to the gym to make up for it! I also play the piano and enjoy reading, travelling and visiting friends. See story page 6

Become a bone marrow donor call 0845 7 711 711



Left: Dick at work on a new pot. Below: Dick shows off some of his finished work

orty years ago, Dick Unsworth thought it would be a good idea to mess around with home-made fireworks. It nearly cost him his life. "Some friends and I made a series of fireworks, each one more sophisticated and louder than the last, until one made from a length of pipe exploded and blew my right hand off… back to the drawing board!" Dick laughs about it now, but it was very serious. "I was rushed to hospital in a car, bleeding heavily. My arm was temporarily closed up and I was sedated. Then when the bleeding was stopped doctors amputated what was left of my hand just below the wrist. I also needed quite a few blood transfusions to replace all the lost blood – these saved my life.

Near death


"I was so high on painkillers I thought I didn’t remember a thing about it, but a few years ago I saw a Catholic priest on television giving the Last Rites and wondered why the words seemed so familiar. Then it struck me – the doctors weren’t sure I’d live, so a priest administered them just in case. Luckily I pulled

The potter’s tale through, and after ten days in hospital I was allowed to go home. "At the time, I was very upset about losing my hand, but looking back I think if there’s a ‘good’ age to lose a hand, 13 might be it. I’d already had all the fun of childhood that you need two hands for – things like climbing trees – but I hadn’t yet learnt adult skills, like driving a car, which I had to learn to do single-handed! "After leaving school I went to art school to study Fine Arts, and ended

Dick Unsworth likes a challenge. So a childhood accident that took away one hand hasn’t stopped him fulfilling his dreams. Donating is now part of his life – his way of paying back the life-saving blood he received forty years ago up specialising in pottery. I met my wife Jill around the same time, and both being independent types we needed to work for ourselves. We moved up to Ingleton, in North Yorkshire, shortly after we married,

Donating after a transfusion Dick received blood 40 years ago, so the recent change in donor guidelines, as a new precautionary measure against the transmission of vCJD, do not apply to him. If, like Dick, you received a transfusion before 1980 you can still donate. The current rule for donors only applies to those people who have received blood or think they may have received blood in the UK since 1 January 1980.

and set up our pottery business. We’ve been up here for 30 years now, and our son Dan has joined us in the business – it’s definitely a real family affair!

Worked out his own way "Some people think it’s strange that I work in a profession where you’d think two hands are the absolute minimum needed, although I don’t see it like that. I was so young when I lost my hand that I’ve worked out my own way of doing things. I’ve never let it stop me doing anything I wanted; in fact I think it encourages

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me to push myself. I’ve done all sorts of things over the years – I used to go pot-holing and I helped out with quite a few underground rescues. We rescued a lad who had a badly cut hand, and when we got him out he saw me, and a friend of mine with a wooden leg who helped pull him out. He said he felt a bit of a fraud!"

Regular donor As well as running a successful business, and playing harmonica in the Bad Taste Blues Band, Dick has another regular fixture in his life – giving blood. After blood saved his life all those years ago, he resolved to give a little back, and he became a donor as soon as he was old enough to do so. Over 50 donations later, he’s still giving. Dick says, "It’s the least I can do. Thanks to the people who gave blood to save me all those years ago I’ve been able to lead a rich and interesting life. I hope the blood that I’ve given has maybe helped someone else to get through a bad patch." His wife Jill adds, "His attitude to giving blood is rather like his attitude to life… just do it… no half measures… at least an armful!" SPRING 2005 THE DONOR


OVER TO YOU 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 or email Never too young to learn


Last time I donated blood, my nine-year-old daughter Stephanie came with me. She’s been lots of times and is always very interested. She read through your magazines whilst waiting, and when we got home, she drew this lovely poster. I thought I’d share it with you. I think it’s important that children are encouraged at donor centres. I always went with my mum and she’s approaching her 70th donation. Watching her encouraged me to become a donor, and hopefully, the tradition will be passed on.

will still continue to send out the magazine as not everyone has access to the internet. However, should you not wish to receive the magazine through the post please call 0845 7 711 711 and we will take you off our mailing list.

Name that tune After the last issue went to print, the music from our TV adverts came out on a CD album set. Called ‘Relax and Escape by Classic FM’, it’s available in Woolworth’s, HMV, Virgin, WH Smith and all good record stores.


Editor’s response: Thank you to Stephanie for drawing this lovely poster. Let’s hope that she does indeed follow in your family footsteps and keep up the family tradition. See page 16 for more blood donor families. Left: Star Winner Julie with Stephanie. Right: The poster

Feedback Just thought I'd drop you a line to say that I really enjoy reading The Donor. Working in marketing communications myself I know how infrequently people let you know when something is good (people seem much more ready to complain!) and it's also hard to get any feedback. In this age of information overload I rarely seem to find the time to fully read any publication, but I can honestly say I read the recent issue of The Donor from cover to cover - so keep up the good work! MARY WALMSLEY BY EMAIL

Editor’s response: It’s always good to receive your feedback on The Donor. It is your A Star Letter will be chosen for the next issue of The Donor. The writer will be invited to visit a Blood Centre and given a behind the scenes tour. You’ll don a white coat, visit our laboratories and see what happens to a donation of blood. You’ll meet the people who are responsible for making sure that vital blood and blood products get from the donor to the patient who needs them.




magazine so please do let us know what you’ve liked or disliked and any suggestions you may have to make it even better.

The Donor online Could you put The Donor on to the NBS website to save on paper and postage? So many people now have broadband it would be

possible for them to read easily a 16- page colour magazine on their screen. CHRIS GARDINER BY EMAIL

Editor’s response: You will find The Donor on our website For current and back issues of The Donor click on News/Publication and scroll down to ‘The Donor’. We

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.

IS IT TRUE THAT... We answer some of your questions about donating rare that the immediate needs of I’m a teacher; some of the the patient would outweigh any children in my class have possible risk of the patient measles. Can I donate? contracting vCJD. If you have had measles Is platelet donation safe? yourself you may donate. If How can you be sure that you haven’t or aren’t sure please blood isn’t infected or wait for four weeks and then, contaminated whilst in the providing you feel well, you may machine? donate. Platelet donations are Can I stay on the British collected and processed Bone Marrow Registry within a sealed, disposable kit (BBMR) even though I have within the machine. Blood is been asked not to give blood completely contained within the because I have had a blood tubes and bags, from when it transfusion? leaves the donor and passes Yes. We would like you to through the machine to its return stay on the BBMR Register. If to the donor. There is no risk of you were to be identified as a cross-infection. suitable donor for a patient I have Gilbert’s syndrome. requiring a bone marrow or stem Is it true my donated blood cell transplant, such matches are so







could cause jaundice in a recipient? No. Gilbert’s syndrome is a common disorder affecting about 1 in 20 of the population. It affects the way your liver processes bile and can cause mild jaundice (yellowness). It doesn’t require treatment. You may donate as long as you are fit and well and not jaundiced at the time of donation. I went to Goa in December, when can I donate again? Anyone who has visited a malarial risk area can come to donate six months after their return as long as they are fit and well. We will carry out a test for malarial antibodies, and a negative result means a donation can be safely used.



You can host a company session call 0845 7 711 711




ristol testing manager Josie Jackson has seen many changes during her 25 years with the National Blood Service. "It used to be all test tubes and pipettes!" she says. Thanks to advances in science and technology most of the testing is now automated, although the human touch is still vital. Josie’s team of laboratory scientists must test over 1,000 donations each day to make sure they’re safe to be issued to hospitals. And the pressure’s on because blood platelets have a short shelf life, so speed is vital. That means the team have to be organised to work shifts – from 8am until midnight. Says Josie, "Because platelets only have a five day shelf life, it’s a race against time to get all the tests through before two o’clock the day after the donations are taken. With a minimum of 13 tests to complete on every donation before it can be labelled and sent off to hospitals, every day is a challenge! Getting as many donations out to hospitals as we do is a real achievement, and a credit to everyone who’s involved."

Three samples Testing starts while the actual donations are being processed. The three samples taken from each donation at session are whisked off to be checked: one for blood grouping, one for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and C antibodies, while the third is sent to our labs in Birmingham where it’s tested for HTLV and the hepatitis C virus.

Getting results Automated and semi-automated equipment test the 1,000 plus donations that arrive every day at the Bristol laboratories. Our blood grouping machines can perform tests on 240 samples an hour. New donors’ blood samples are tested twice and the results compared. Regular donors’ samples are tested once and the results checked against those from their previous donations. A system of bar codes matches test results to samples, using a laser reader similar to that at supermarket checkouts.

Put to the test! Josie Jackson heads a team of 22 at the Bristol laboratories, where blood from the South and South West of England is tested before it is sent to hospitals. She describes a typical day Josie starts every day with a visit to the labs so she can check there have been no problems during the late shift, such as a piece of machinery breaking down. She says, "Because Bristol also tests donations from the Oxford and Plymouth areas we have to be extra careful that things don’t go wrong. But, having two of every machine means we always have a back-up should something go wrong." Josie regularly meets her Oxford and Plymouth colleagues. Today they are discussing a modification to a test that detects naturallyoccurring antibodies in blood. Vulnerable patients, for example new born babies, should only receive components that have low levels of antibodies, so this meeting is really important for improving patient safety. "Also, whenever a new test is introduced it can affect the other blood centres, so I need to discuss it with my colleagues. Nothing stands

still - we have to keep improving, introducing new equipment and tests, so that we can maintain the highest possible levels of safety, accuracy and efficiency. "

Emergency planning After lunch, Josie rushes off to a meeting on emergency planning. As emergency planning manager for the centre, Josie has to be prepared for the unexpected happening. "If there were a power cut we would have to be sure that the back-up generator is working. I would need to liaise with staff from other departments who make up our local emergency team. It would be my job to make sure the problem didn’t affect our service, and that ultimately patients still got the blood they needed." Another meeting, then Josie’s back at her desk to

Register as an organ donor see

catch up on paperwork. "With 22 staff to manage, there’s always something to do! At the moment I have one member of staff going for their state registration oral exam, known as a viva. This is an essential qualification for any member of staff working in these labs so it's vital that I make sure they get the appropriate study leave from work." Josie makes one last visit round the labs, then heads home. Above: Josie (centre) with colleagues at the laboratory. Below: Unwinding after work with some dressmaking




A new kind of life-saver T

he secret of cord blood – the blood left in the placenta and umbilical cord after a baby is born – is that it contains stem cells, which have the capability of making new blood cells. Scientists spotted their potential for treating illnesses such as leukaemia in the mid Seventies, and in 1989 the first cord blood transplant was performed. Since then over 3,000 transplants have been carried out worldwide. We set up the NHS Cord Blood Bank in 1996, with the aim of obtaining voluntary cord blood donations from mothers for use by anyone anywhere in the world. Currently mothers can donate cord blood in only a few hospitals

Umbilical cord blood used to be thrown away. Now it’s being used to save lives (see panel below). Mothers at these hospitals are routinely given information about cord blood donation as part of their antenatal programme and parentcraft classes.

How is cord blood donated? Before the birth, the midwife will ask the mother if she would like to donate her cord blood. If she agrees, trained staff will collect her cord blood donation. This is taken to the Bank for processing, screening and tissue typing. To obtain the stem cells the blood is spun to separate the

components. The plasma and red cells are removed to reduce the volume of the donation to just 21ml. The stem cells are then frozen, and can be stored for more than 20 years. A cryoprotectant solution, a bit like antifreeze, is added to protect the cells from damage during freezing. The entire process, from donation to freezing, must be completed within 48 hours. About 10 weeks after the birth, following the health check of mother and baby, the Bank phones the mother to complete the donor assessment and check that she still wants her donation to be used. If

A second chance for Matthew E

leven-year-old Matthew owes his life to cord blood. When his mum, Annette Robinson, found suspicious bruises on her son, she feared the worst. Blood tests confirmed that acute myeloid leukaemia had returned for a second time. Doctors said Matthew’s only hope of beating the illness was a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Annette, from Derbyshire, says, "Matthew’s an only child, so there were no siblings to check for a bone marrow match, and there wasn’t time to search the registries for an unrelated match. We were

told a cord blood match was a possibility, if one could be found. We had an anxious three-week wait and then one day, the doctor walked in and said a donation had been found. We felt huge relief and new hope." Now she says, "Thanks to that cord blood, Matthew is a happy, lively 11-year-old boy. I am so grateful to the lady who had the foresight to donate, because without it, I doubt Matthew would be with us today. Thank you very much."


Are cord transplants suitable for everyone? There are pros and cons. There must be enough stem cells in the donation to treat the patient – the larger the patient, the more stem cells are needed. With the use of double cord blood transplants, most patients without an available bone marrow donor can find a suitable cord blood donation. A bone marrow donor can take up to six months to arrange. Cord blood, as an off-the-shelf product, can be available in just two days. Another plus for cord blood is that close matching of tissue type seems to be less important than with a bone marrow transplant, although doctors will always try to find the best match for their patient. So far the Bank has stored over 7,000 donations of cord blood and helped 86 patients in 14 countries.

How can I donate cord blood?

Above: Matthew, a real bookworm, enjoys a good vampire novel. Left: with his mum and dad


she does, the mother then answers a series of questions about her medical history, similar to those in the Donor Health Check, to confirm that the donation is safe to give to a patient. If all’s well, the donation is registered on the British Bone Marrow Registry and on NETCORD, the international cord blood registry where transplant centres can search for a match for their patients.

Currently, you can only donate cord blood if you are having your baby in one of the hospitals where we have dedicated trained staff. These are Barnet General Hospital, Northwick Park, and Luton and Dunstable Hospital. They serve a wide ethnic community, allowing a greater number of mothers from diverse ethnic backgrounds to make donations. Currently 42 per cent of cord blood in the NHS Cord Blood Bank is from minority ethnic groups. This greatly increases the variety of tissue types available for patients needing transplants, and so improves the chances of finding a match.

Don’t forget the Helpline number 0845 7 711 711

PRIZE CROSSWORD Complete the crossword, then rearrange the letters in the highlighted squares to make a two word phrase relating to the NBS. Send the words on a postcard together with your name, address and daytime phone number to Crossword ACROSS 1 4 8 10 11

Bilbo or Frodo maybe (6) Sixth day (6) Heart specialists (13) Sister of Orestes (7) Form of oxygen (5)


Congratulations to Miss Ann Light from Filton, Bristol who correctly answered last issue’s crossword. The correct answer was SAVING LIVES

Competition, The Donor, NBS, West Derby Street, Liverpool L7 8TW. You could win a new ‘Amazing’ NBS sports umbrella. You can check the answers and winners in the next issue of The Donor. All entries must be received by April 30th 2005.

12 16 17 19 20

Allowed (9) Big sea (5) Get better (7) Oscars (7,6) Discrimination against oldies? (6) 21 Singer Bing (6)

DOWN 1 Game on field or on ice (6) 2 A guide to lords and baronets (6,7) 3 Fool (5) 5 Type of weed (7) 6 Author of The Naked Ape (7,6) 7 Acquiescent sycophants (3,3) 9 Financial obligation (9) 13 Glasgow soccer team (7) 14 Musical composition (6) 15 One of the Channel Islands (6) 18 Dominion (5)

NBS INFORMATION If you have a general enquiry or need any information about giving blood, just call the 24 hour Donor Helpline on 0845 7 711 711 and staff will answer your queries on: • 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 your 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! DON’T FORGET BBC2 Ceefax page 465 will give you details of blood donor sessions in your TV region over the next two days.

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: NORTH Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield. NORTH EAST Newcastle-upon-Tyne. NORTH WEST Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester. MIDLANDS Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Oxford, Stoke-on-Trent. LONDON Edgware, Tooting, West End. SOUTH EAST Luton, Cambridge, Brentwood. SOUTH WEST Bristol, Gloucester, Plymouth, Southampton.

You can find session details on BBC2 Ceefax page 465

We always need new donors. So please, if you are not a donor, fill out the coupon below, 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 donor. SURNAME Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss FIRST NAME DATE OF BIRTH





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 above. 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.




Saving lives: it’s in the blood P recious possessions can be passed down through family generations – anything from grandma’s antique jewellery to mum’s secret cake recipe. In the Steele family, mother Janet is passing on something to her four children that she feels is more valuable than any possession: being a blood donor. Janet, from Birmingham, began giving blood in 1956 after being persuaded to go by a work colleague. Like many of our loyal donors Janet decided to give blood for one simple reason, "I just felt it was something I could do to help others. I could spare it, and someone else could benefit from it." Now approaching her 79th pint, Janet has a clear dedication to blood donation. She knew she wanted her children to follow her example. As each of her four children in turn became old enough, Janet encouraged them to come with her to a blood donor session and donate their first pint.

Giving blood can be a real family affair. We meet two donor families, the Steeles and the Robinsons

More than one in every four people who enrol to give blood have been encouraged by a friend or relative. Around 80 per cent of them go on to become donors

Blood links: Malcolm, Mark and Darren Robinson. Left: Jane and Robin with their daughter

Little did the family know that one of them would need blood themselves. In October 2002, after several years of being a blood donor, Janet’s daughter Jane became pregnant. She had a trouble-free pregnancy, but complications after the birth meant that Jane needed an operation and an emergency transfusion to replace lost blood. After her operation, husband



In June 2004 all three Robinsons reached milestone donations within days of each other. Malcolm reached his 75th, Mark his 50th and Darren his 25th donation, so collectively they have made 150

Robin decided he should give blood. Jane says, "Robin takes giving blood very seriously. He’s only missed one donation, because he caught a cold, and since then he keeps well away from anyone with a bug if he’s due to donate!"

Like father, like son Of course dads can set a life-saving example too. Malcolm Robinson, now 69, began donating during his

National Service days when it was very much encouraged. After leaving the RAF in the late 1960s he bumped into a work colleague who was going to give blood, and decided to start up again. Since then he’s barely missed a session. Malcolm says, "I can remember when the blood was collected in glass bottles!" Malcolm’s eldest son Mark was eager to follow in his dad’s footsteps and joined his dad at sessions from the age of 11. Mark says, "I went purely out of curiosity to see what went on, and of course the drink and biscuits went down well! When I reached 18 I had already decided I wanted to be a blood donor." Mark rolled up his sleeve for the first time just two days after his 18th birthday and like his father has continued to give regularly. Malcolm’s youngest son Darren followed his brother a few years later, also donating just after his 18th birthday.

donations, potentially saving many lives. Malcolm is fast approaching his 70th birthday, when, unfortunately we will have to ask him to stop donating, but eldest son Mark will be sure to carry on the tradition. "It’s something we all feel very strongly about. Both Dad and myself have rare blood groups so I want to keep giving for that reason alone."

Bring a friend More than one in every four people who enrol to give blood have been encouraged by a friend or relative. Around 80 per cent of them go on to become donors. Overall, only about 50 per cent of all enrolees go on to donate, so those who are recommended are much more likely to become donors, and in turn spread the word themselves. Many new donors have told us they were really helped by having someone they knew with them the first time they donated. If you know someone who is interested in becoming a blood donor, why not invite him or her along to your next session? If they call 0845 7 711 711 they can enrol and make an appointment to donate at their nearest session at the same time.

Become a bone marrow donor call 0845 7 711 711

The Donor - Spring 2005  

EMERGENCY DOCTORS - How London Air Ambulance saved Jamie. A new kind of life-saver - Treating patients with cord blood stem cells. Rock and...