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NEWS AND INFORMATION FOR BLOOD DONORS

SUMMER 2005

OLIVIA’S STORY

SAX APPEAL!

World Blood Day United we stand – why blood donation is a global effort

Thalassaemia

What it is, how we treat it

MEET THE EXPERT

R O T A R E P O H T O O SMtin Kemp joins our TV campaign ar Mar

PLUS, IN OUR BRAND NEW FORMAT: UPDATES ◆ NEWS ◆ LETTERS ◆ AND MUCH MORE...


In this issue COVER STORIES

4 Martin’s new role Martin Kemp tells us why he is starring in our TV campaign

6 News Update COPYRIGHT © BBC

The latest news from around the country

9 A life or death operation Luke Craig urgently needed blood after a horrific car crash

11 Thalassaemia PAGE 4

This rare blood disease needs specialist treatment

13 The greatest gift of all How one woman became a mum thanks to egg donation

14 Are you feeling saxy? Two donor carers who enjoy relaxing with a sax

16 United we stand PAGE 14

Heather Mills McCartney and World Blood Donor Day

20 Over to you Catch up with readers’ letters plus health Q&As

21 Paws for thought Yes, dogs can be donors too! Just ask greyhound Charlie

23 Hidden invaders The lowdown on HTLV and why we test for this virus

25 Beating leukaemia together PAGE 25

The story of brave Olivia Papworth

27 Write on Meet Maurice Bessman, donor and author

28 Staying in the red! Behind the scenes with blood bank manager Paul Turner

30 All about iron Why we all need to keep up our supplies of iron

31 Crossword PAGE 28

Another challenge for you

32 NBS Information How to contact us

NHS

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 (NBS). Reproduction in whole or part is strictly forbidden without the prior permission of the NBS. Design and production Keith Hodgson and Hilary Joseph,Ant Creative (London). Reproduction: Portland Media (London). Printed by Apple Web Offset on paper from sustainable forests. The NBS is run by the National Blood Authority which is a Special Health Authority within the National Health Service.

SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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STEVIE HUGH ES/EMI GROU P PLC

COVER STORY

Martin’s new role Hi, Martin. How did you become involved with the NBS adverts? When I first saw the adverts on television I thought they were really classy, almost like minitrailers. So when I was approached for the voice-over on the radio adverts, I mentioned that I would be interested in doing one. Then the agency called me to let me know there was a space and I gladly stepped in. We filmed my part in a barber’s shop in Essex. You were diagnosed with two brain tumours in 1995. What happened? The veins in my face had become enlarged, but it was one of those

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After finding fame in 80’s pop band Spandau Ballet, Martin Kemp found a new audience playing Steve Owen in Eastenders. The Donor caught up with him to find out about his latest starring role – in the NBS’s adverts! things I brushed off. Eight weeks later, whilst working in Canada, a lump on my head had ballooned to the size of a peach! It was removed and a metal plate was

THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

fitted. The surgeon had to take a good portion of my scalp away, which weighed an amazing two kilos! Then the second tumour was discovered in an even more awkward position, lodged and growing dangerously in my brain. That was treated by radiation. How did your family cope? It was obviously touch and go at times, and I decided to try and record something about my life for my children to read. I never expected it to be published, but it culminated in my autobiography, entitled True. It was an extremely difficult time for my wife Shirlie who took the brunt of it. But we

COPYRIGHT © BBC

Above:The Big Hair days! Martin and Gary and the rest of Spandau Ballet. Below:Martin looking good after his gruelling treatment

are getting on with our lives now and looking forward. We live in the Hertfordshire countryside with our daughter Harley, 15, and son Roman, 11. You received blood during your treatment for the tumours; were you ever a blood donor? No, I had hepatitis as a child and at one time that meant that you couldn’t donate, but I was always aware of it going on. I think the need for blood is something most people are quite removed from. It was only when I was in hospital that the amount of blood which is needed actually came to light.

After that experience, it was fantastic to give something back by being in the ads. Did your illness change your outlook on life? Everything I’ve done since has seemed like a bonus. My surgeon said I’d had the tumours for ten years. I was extremely lucky that they were benign. My illness meant that my life stopped for a while and then it changed forever. You started out in the band Spandau Ballet with your brother. How did it all begin?

My brother Gary was starting up this band and needed a bass player. I was desperate to be involved so he gave me a few weeks to learn how to play. I managed it OK, but I was never a natural musician and had to practice quite a bit. You made the transition from music to acting very smoothly. How did you manage it? As a youngster growing up in Islington, I was very shy so my mum sent me to theatre school just to bring me out of myself a bit. I went every week for eight years and played parts in Dixon of Dock Green, Rumpole of the Bailey and other productions. I decided then that I wanted to be an actor, but it wasn’t until after the band that I was able to pursue it. Then the offer came for Gary and me to play the Kray twins in a film about the gangsters, and I never looked back. ●

LIFE STORY ● Born October 10, 1961, in London. ● In the 70s acted in over 30 productions from Jackanory to Rumpole of the Bailey.

● 1978, joined his big brother's school band as the bass player. A year later they became the hugely successful Spandau Ballet. ● 1988, wed his long-term girlfriend Shirlie, a former Wham! backing singer. ● 1990, stars with brother Gary as gangster twin in the movie The Krays. ● 1998, joins the cast of Eastenders to play Steve Owen. ● Appeared in a number of recent films and TV dramas including Can't Buy Me Love and Serious and Organised. ●

SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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ews Update • News Update • News Update • News Update • News Update • News Update • News Updat

NBS asks "Are you my type?" I

Safer blood rules T

he EU has introduced a number of changes to donation rules to improve blood safety both for donors and for the patients receiving blood. To make sure we comply fully with the new EU rules we’ll be making some slight changes to the questions we ask you on the Donor Health Check questionnaire. We will also be making some amendments to the information leaflets in your Welcome Folder at the same time. These changes will be rolled out from November. We will give you more information about these changes with your session invitation letters nearer the time. ●

West Nile Virus ast summer we introduced a test for West Nile Virus. This allows donors travelling back from North America between June and November (mosquito season) to donate as soon as they return. Previously, you had to wait 28 days after your return before you could roll up your sleeves to give. West Nile Virus is an infection found in birds, but it can occasionally be transmitted to humans via mosquito bites and so infect the blood. It’s rare in Europe but cases in the USA are rising. Testing for the virus began this year on 1 June and will continue until 30 November. Only donors who require another test, such as for malaria, will be asked to wait 28 days before they can donate. ●

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THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

n September 2004 we launched OneBlood, our long-term campaign to recruit more blood and bone marrow donors from diverse ethnic backgrounds. We can increase the chances of finding matches for rarer blood groups and bone marrow types by encouraging more donors from ethnic minorities. As part of this drive, we held a photo shoot in May for a new poster campaign entitled, "Are you my type?", featuring stars from music and TV. Watch out for the faces of Channel 4’s June Sarpong and Cele brating Birmin We are merging with UK Transplant BBC Radio 1’s Trevor is, left to right, NB gham OneBlood S (UKT) on 1 October 2005.The new Nelson when the Chungtai, Balbin donor carer Aliya der Kaur, Cathy organisation,called NHS Blood and Dh an new posters appear da, a haemoglobi nopath Transplant (NHSBT),will take over on the streets in the from City Hospital and Lord y nurse the responsibilities of both the King of We st Br om wich. summer. ● NBS and UKT.

NBS to merge Hash House Harriers’ pledge

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he international running club Hash House Harriers is showing its team spirit after one of its members made a heartfelt appeal to his fellow runners to give blood. Tim Cotton, a founder member of the club’s Cambridge branch (pictured above), is seriously ill with prostate cancer and receives regular blood transfusions as part of his treatment. Tim says, "Many of my

friends have asked what they can do to help me? I tell them to give blood. I want to be responsible for giving back more than I have needed." So far, 31 runners from his Cambridge-based club have signed up. But Tim’s appeal has had a truly global effect with club members as far away as Kuala Lumpur and the USA also pledging to become blood donors in his name. ●

Testing, testing, testing N

ew tests to make blood even safer are vital, but how do we know we can rely on the tests? That’s where our brand new Test Assessment Facility at our Manchester centre comes in. It’s been set up to evaluate any future blood screening tests, such as for vCJD. Although there is currently no routine blood screening test for vCJD in the world, scientists are hopeful they can develop one. Should this happen, our new facility in Manchester will enable us to evaluate the test immediately. ●

The new chairman of the body is E J (Bill) Fullagar,previously president and chief executive officer of Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK and president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Mike Fogden continues as chairman of the National Blood Authority (NBA),which has responsibility for the NBS until the merger takes place. From October the existing boards of the NBA and UKT will be disbanded and the new board of NHSBT will take charge of the organisation.Until then Mr Fullagar is working closely with the NBA,UKT and the Department of Health to manage the merger of the two organisations. NBA chief executive Martin Gorham says,"We look forward to working with Mr Fullagar to create NHSBT,which will unite and build on the many strengths of the NBS and UKT. This presents us with enormous potential to improve further our services to donors,patients and hospitals." ●

OneBlood is what it’s all about! T

wo young patients have joined us on our OneBlood campaign. They have been appealing for people from all of our communities to become blood and potential bone marrow donors. Yvette Gate (pictured below right) was the guest of honour at the Bristol OneBlood launch where she spoke about coping with her blood condition aplastic anaemia, caused by her bone marrow producing insufficient blood cells. She needs regular transfusions to stay alive and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. At the Birmingham OneBlood launch, 26-year-old Balbinder Kaur told the audience about her thalassaemia major, an inherited blood disorder which causes severe anaemia. She too needs regular transfusions. Balbinder and Yvette’s message is that we need more donors from minority ethnic backgrounds to help them and the thousands like them across the country. ● SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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ews Update • News Update • News Update • News Up

Charity says farewell and thank you

In brief.... NBS teams have raised stacks of cash as they swapped blood packs and needles for trainers to take part in this year’s Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life events across the country.

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he British Bone Marrow Donor Appeal was founded in 1987 by Malcolm Thomas and John Humphries, two fathers desperately looking for bone marrow donors for their children. Since then the charity has raised over £4 million to help pay for tissue typing and to help build the bone marrow registries in England and Wales. This work is now funded by the government, and the charity’s trustees have decided to close the appeal and donate the balance of their funds, £1 million, to the

blood services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The trustees, supporters and guests, came together with patron Brian May, from the rock band Queen (pictured above), to celebrate the success of the appeal and present cheques to the three blood services. We will be using the money to improve bone marrow donor testing and tissue typing, to improve the service we offer through the British Bone Marrow Registry to patients needing a matched donor ●

Alcohol awareness! I

f you smell alcohol at your next session, don’t panic, our donor carers are not drinking on the job! From this summer, staff will be using alcohol-based hand gels to clean their hands and donors may notice the smell of alcohol as it evaporates. These gels clean hands more effectively, and are replacing the hand wipes that we currently use. The gels are also less likely to cause our staff allergic reactions. ●

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THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

We teamed up with the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust to sponsor its sixth annual "Gift of Life" ball. Guests found themselves being waited on for the evening by 40 celebrities, and were then encouraged to sign up to become blood donors and bone marrow donors. Baron von Rockula, star of the spectacular rock musical Vampires Rock, made time on his national tour to support the NBS by giving blood. Even the most dedicated vampire can be persuaded to turn over a new leaf – all in a good cause of course! Please give a blood donation, not a present. That was Samantha Summerfield‘s unusual request to her relatives for her first birthday. Sam received a blood transfusion at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after surgery to close a hole in her diaphragm and her parents wanted to repay the hospital. Eight relatives came to donate – does this make Sam our youngest donor recruiter? ●

HOSPITAL EMERGENCY

A life or death operation Every year, 200,000 units of blood are needed for emergency operations. Last year, Luke Craig was just one of the many patients whose lives were saved with the help of a surgeon’s skill and donated blood

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anuary 25th 2004 began like any normal day for 15year-old Luke Craig. He’d gone to a family christening, then on to a party. But returning home he was involved in a horrific car crash. Luke remembers nothing, but two women who were out jogging pulled him out of the wreckage and phoned for help. Luke was rushed to the nearest casualty department at Burnley General Hospital

where doctors, unsure of the extent of his injuries, sent him for a CT scan. Surgeon Dilraj Gopal discovered that although Luke’s seatbelt had saved him from flying through the windscreen of the car, the huge forces in the crash had caused serious internal injuries including a tear in his heart. He

was bleeding internally, and needed more and more blood to replace the loss. Meanwhile, Luke’s mum Julie was at home in Burnley, unaware of the unfolding drama until police officers came round to break the news. At the hospital she listened as staff told her that although surgeons there did not normally carry out heart surgery, there was no time to transfer Luke to a specialist centre. Mr Gopal would have to operate immediately if Luke was to have any chance of surviving. Julie says, "I was numb with the shock. All I remember the doctor saying was, ‘We don’t know if we can save this lad. All we can say is the operation is his best chance.’ I was desperate for them to help him so I signed the forms, and that was it. I didn’t see Luke again until three in the morning." The hospital managed to contact a specialist heart surgeon in nearby Manchester, but Luke was so ill there was no time to

Luke underwent major heart surgery after a horrific car crash

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BLOOD FACTS

wait for him to arrive. Taking instructions over the telephone, Dilraj Gopal managed to repair the tear in Luke’s heart. The specialist arrived in time to take over and complete the surgery. Julie recalls, "When they came to see me, they said they’d done all they could, but it was up to Luke to pull through. I was so terrified, I couldn’t even cry." Two days after his operation and in a more stable condition, Luke was transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where he spent two

Luke with his sister Poppy. He’s playing football again

“All I remember the doctor saying was, ‘We don’t know if we can save this lad. All we can say is the operation is his best chance’.” weeks on a ventilator before he could breathe for himself.

THE RIGHT BLOOD

Luke says, "I was really scared when I woke up, I didn’t know what had happened, or where I was. Once they had explained everything to me, I was still really worried about how the accident was going to affect my life." As Luke recuperated, the whole family including sister Poppy, 11, and brother Alfie, seven, stayed nearby. But amazingly, just two weeks after coming off the ventilator, Luke’s condition had improved and he was well enough to go home. "It was great," says Luke, "like the first step back to my normal life." Now, 18 months later, Luke is playing football again and gradually regaining his fitness. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery. To the blood donors who donated the 24 pints he needed to get through his operation, Luke has a message, "Thanks, really. That’s all I can say." ●

In an emergency such as Luke’s, when the patient is bleeding heavily and there is not enough time Blood transfusions save thousands of lives every for blood grouping and crossmatching, group O year, but the right blood has to reach the right (preferably RhD negative) red blood cells may be patient. The patient’s ABO and RhD blood group are given, until the blood group can be identified. tested in the laboratory, while a procedure called Group O blood is called the universal donor crossmatching ensures that the blood to be because it has no ABO antigens for a patient's antitransfused is compatible with the patient’s blood, bodies to attack. If there is time for blood grouping, otherwise a serious transfusion reaction could occur. red blood cells of the patient’s own type are given.

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THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

Thalassaemia Hundreds of people in the UK suffer from a genetic blood disorder called thalassaemia. Treating the condition requires regular blood transfusions, but new treatments are offering hope to sufferers

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halassaemia is an inherited blood disorder that affects the haemoglobin in the red blood cells. It is caused by an abnormal gene that stops the body from producing enough haemoglobin, the chemical that carries oxygen around the body. This can lead to a severe type of anaemia. Thalassaemia is more common in certain ethnic groups than others, mainly people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern,

Children who inherit an affected gene from only one parent will have thalassaemia trait and are called carriers. They normally have no related health problems. In fact in many cases they don’t even know they are carriers.

Life-long treatment

A normal blood cell,left, and right,one affected by the thalassaemia trait African and Asiatic descent. The thalassaemia gene is passed on from parent to child. But not everyone carrying the gene will develop the condition.

Living with Thalassaemia We featured Rubina Salim, who suffers from beta thalassaemia major, in our Autumn 2001 issue of The Donor. Back then she was a lively 14- year-old, and avid Manchester United fan, who was determined not to let her illness hamper her lifestyle. Today she’s 18 and enjoying life to the full, although she still needs regular transfusions to stay healthy. She says,"Blood donors enable me to live with my condition and retain a good quality of life. Most people think of blood being used for accidents and operations, but I need three units of blood every month to survive."

But children who inherit an affected gene from both parents will develop beta thalassaemia major, a serious condition that can cause severe anaemia and even organ damage. Babies born with beta thalassaemia major usually appear healthy until they are about six months old, when they start to develop symptoms such as severe anaemia, jaundice, shortness of breath and an enlarged spleen.

Can people with thalassaemia be blood donors? People with thalassaemia cannot give blood, but those with thalassaemia trait can if they are in good health.Thalassaemia trait is normally found in people from ethnic minority backgrounds, so their blood is particularly valuable for treating others of the same ethnic background. SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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MEDICAL INFORMATION Carriers of thalassaemia trait don’t need treatment, but patients with beta thalassaemia major need regular blood transfusions every four to six weeks throughout their lives to survive. These transfusions help by ‘topping up’ the haemoglobin in the blood and reducing the anaemia. Unfortunately there are some serious side affects. People with the disorder still absorb iron naturally from the food they eat. This combines with the iron from the blood transfusions and builds up, causing an ‘iron overload’. If it is not treated, the iron overload can cause serious harm to vital organs such as the liver or heart. The iron overload can be controlled by a treatment called chelation therapy. A special drug is pumped into the patient slowly over several hours, often while they sleep at night. The drug binds with the iron, which is then removed from the body by the kidneys. Before this

Special protection Thalassaemia has one unexpected benefit – it protects sufferers and carriers from malaria.The parasite that causes malaria lives in the red blood cells and feeds on the haemoglobin. Because the red cells of people with thalassaemia and thalassaemia trait are smaller than normal, and contain less haemoglobin, the parasite can’t grow and infect neighbouring cells.

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How the trait is passed on

The greatest gift of all

M When one parent has one affected gene, s/he has the thalassaemia trait, and is called a carrier. If the other parent has no affected genes, then, on average half of their children would have normal haemoglobin and half would be carriers for the thalassaemia trait.

If both parents have thalassaemia trait i.e. each has one affected gene, then, on average, one in four of their children would suffer from beta thalassaemia major, two in four would be carriers, and a one in four would have normal haemoglobin.

treatment was available, most than the risks associated with thalassaemia patients died at continuing the treatment. about 20, usually of heart If a donor is not available from problems. close relatives, the chances of finding a matched unrelated Screening donor are slim. Thalassaemia People at risk of carrying patients often come from ethnic thalassaemia trait can have a minority backgrounds, which are simple blood test at their GP under-represented on the UKs surgery to screen for it. The test bone marrow registeries. There is good news though. measures the size of the red blood cells and the amount of Medical advances, such as haemoglobin in the blood. This is chelation therapy drugs in tablet particularly valuable for couples form, could make life much easier for sufferers, and some patients hoping to start a family. The only possible cure for are already being treated this way. thalassaemia is a bone marrow Other drug treatments are also transplant from a perfectly being tested in clinical trials.● matched donor. But no bone For more information on marrow transplant is risk free. So thalassaemia, contact the it’s normally only considered if a UK Thalassaemia Society on suitable donor is available and 0800 7311109 or visit their the risk from the transplant is less website, www.ukts.org

THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

ost couples take it for granted that they can start a family if and when they want. But sadly, about one in seven couples in the UK have fertility problems. Sometimes a small operation or a simple procedure by doctors can solve the problem. But some couples need special help that can only come from other people - the gift of donor eggs or sperm. Pip Morris has every reason to encourage people to become egg or sperm donors. She was just 22 when doctors told her she’d reached her menopause prematurely and would never have children. The next year she met Brian and they fell in love, but Pip had to tell him that they’d never have a family. To her delight, Brian was not worried and they married two years later. Then a helpful GP sent them to a fertility centre that carried out egg donations. They waited over three years to see the consultant,

How one woman became a mother thanks to the generosity of an egg donor but things moved quickly after that. Within six months Pip had her first cycle of treatment using a donor egg and became pregnant.

conceive naturally and have a little girl, Immogen. Pip and Brian’s happy family was created thanks to one

Happy family: Pip and Brian with children Dominic and Immogen To Pip and Brian’s joy and gratitude, Dominic was born. But that wasn’t the end of the story. A year after Dominic’s birth, Pip’s hormones kicked in and doctors found that the premature menopause had reversed itself. Pip went on to

Giving hope to childless couples Each year around 2,000 babies are born from donated eggs and sperm, but many more donors are needed. If you think you might be able to help someone have a family you can contact the National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) on 0845

donor’s decision to help. Pip says, ‘If you possibly can, please think about donating an egg, or sperm, to help create a family. Perhaps you can start to imagine the joy it brings! I say the biggest thank you ever to our donor – a great person.’ ●

226 9193 for further information. The NGDT would like to hear from men aged 28-45 and women aged 28-35. As a donor, you would have no legal or financial responsibility for any child born from your donation. However, like adopted people, people born from donations have the right to ask for the donor’s identity when they reach 18 or older.

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BEHIND THE SCENES help raise money for them. Last Christmas, we held a carol concert at a blood donor session to entertain the donors, and we managed to raise some money towards an electrocardiogram (ECG) for the hospital.We are now hoping to organise another concert in October to support a leprosy mission.

Are you feeling saxy? Mary Abbott and Mandy Smith are donor carers on the Hereford and Worcester team. But away from the bedside, they both love to play the saxophone and have been putting their musical talents to good use How long have you both worked for the NBS?

Q

MaryWe both started within about a week of each other, about three and a half years ago. Mandy Mary and I were blood donors before we joined the team, and used to come to the sessions in Worcester and think what a nice atmosphere it was. Now you’re part of the team, what do you particularly enjoy about your role?

Q

Mandy I’m quite a people person and enjoy working with the public – it’s good to see so many positive people coming through the doors every day. It’s also good working as part of a team. Mary It’s a very rewarding profession to be in. It’s great meeting donors, and you can really get a rapport going with them. I also enjoy visiting all the different villages and towns where we hold sessions. You’ve both recently rediscovered your talents for the saxophone.When did you originally start playing?

Q

Service band while my husband was the conductor. But when I started at the NBS, working evenings and some weekends, it meant I couldn’t devote as much time to it as I would’ve liked. Mandy I come from quite a musical family so I grew up with music. My dad, a jazz musician, founded the

“Last Christmas,we held a carol concert at a blood donor session to entertain the donors,and we managed to raise some money towards an electrocardiogram for the hospital.” Birmingham Jazz Club and my sister is now a music teacher, so I was always going to pursue music in some form or another.

MaryWe’ve both played for years. I It seems quite unusual to started when I was a teenager and have two saxophone then when I got married to a fireman, players in one team – how did I played in the West Midlands Fire you both discover your

Q

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THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

mutual love of music?

Mandy Around Christmas time in 2003 we got chatting and discovered we both played saxophone.We started to practice together and then I got asked to play in a band by another member of staff in Birmingham. So I asked Mary to join us and it all took off from there.

Can we say definitely that the sax is back then?

Q

How did your first gig go and where was it?

Q

Mandy It went really well! It felt so good to get back into it after a few years off.We played for a birthday party at the Wharf Club in Walsall and since then have managed to get quite a few gigs! MaryThe atmosphere is great and it’s good fun to play as part of a band.We play all sorts of music – swing, blues, rock and roll and jazz from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.We wear clothes from that era too! The first gig we did was in the style of Hollywood glamour so we managed to bag ourselves some glitzy dresses for that!

Mandy Most definitely! We both missed it so much, and it’s great that we can keep people entertained and raise some money at the same time. Mary If people get bored of hearing the sax we can also play the flute and Mandy can play piano, so we can turn our hand to that.We’re so versatile! ●

So now you’ve had a few gigs things are looking promising! What’s next…a recording contract?!

Q

Mary No! Not yet anyway.We’ve been using our saxophones for a good cause recently. Mandy Every year one of our team members visits a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, to help out at a local hospital – they have no health service so it can be a struggle to afford the basic equipment.We thought it would be a good idea to

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.Mandy (left) and Mary (right) get in the mood with their saxophones.Right:in their more usual uniforms!

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WORLD BLOOD DAY Heather Mills McCartney pictured in Trafalgar Square at the launch of World Blood Day

whether by shipping equipment to blood services in developing countries or sharing ideas and expertise with colleagues around the world. Steve Morgan is project leader for NBS International which organises our work with other blood services. He says, "One of the most important reasons for talking to our colleagues around the world is to share knowledge to improve many aspects of our own service as well as theirs."

Below:Steve Morgan,project leader for NBS International, organising our work with other blood services around the world

But we don’t just talk to our international colleagues about blood safety. There’s research too, and one of the most exciting new areas is stem cells – those tiny chameleons that can turn into red cells, white cells or platelets. These cells are vital for treating

Sharing expertise

United we stand Y

ou may give blood for many In June we joined with other countries reasons – simply to help others, on World Blood Donor Day to celebrate or perhaps someone close to you has relied on transfusions and you the gift of blood. But all year round, want to ‘repay’ on their behalf; perhaps we’re busy sharing expertise and ideas you just like our cheerful donor carers with blood services across the globe and the tea and biccies! Whatever the reason, World Blood Donor Day on June 14th was teaspoons to men and women who, because of aimed squarely at thanking donors worldwide for illness or accident, needed hundreds of units to their generosity. help save their lives. The theme of the day was ‘Celebrating the gift of blood’ and as we at the NBS held the honour of Safe blood hosting this year’s world launch, events kicked off Here in the UK we all take safe donated blood for in Trafalgar Square with the help of celebrity granted. Much of the world is not so lucky, and a Heather Mills McCartney. crucial aim of World Blood Donor Day was to raise At celebrations all around the country, visitors awareness of this. At the NBS we’re trying to help met people whose lives have been touched by the practically too. In fact for many years we’ve been gift of blood – from babies who needed just a few working to help raise standards internationally,

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THE DONOR SPRING 2004

patients with blood disorders such as leukaemia, aplastic anaemia and beta thalassaemia major (see page 11). Stem cells are found in bone marrow, and in cord blood taken from umbilical cords after birth. This cord blood used to be thrown away, but now it can be banked and used to save lives. The New York Blood Centre opened the world’s first cord blood bank in 1993. Three years later we followed suit, setting up the NHS Cord Blood Bank. Since then we have issued 95 units of cord blood for transplants in 14 countries, and around the world more than 6,000 cord blood transplants have been carried out. Worldwide interest in cord blood transplants is growing, particularly for developing countries where there are no bone marrow registers at present. The NHS Cord Blood Bank and Colindale blood centre in London recently played host to Pedro Rivarola, founder of The Max Foundation, a worldwide organisation that supports cancer patients and their families. Pedro was eager to find out how cord blood banking worked. His son Max died of leukaemia before doctors could find a suitable bone marrow match. He now devotes his time to supporting and informing other families of important groundbreaking developments. From his visit to London, Pedro now hopes to set up a cord blood and stem cell bank in Bangkok.

Bone marrow donors worldwide Bone marrow donation is truly international. If a patient needs a transplant, doctors SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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can search a worldwide register of potential donors called Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide. This links 54 stem cell donor registries from 40 countries, and 37 cord blood registries from 21 countries. The UK’s own bone marrow registers are part of this worldwide link. In 2004, 45 donors made a donation for the benefit of patients being treated abroad. Joining forces like this means patients have the best possible chance of finding a bone marrow match.

Most people in the world don’t have access to safe blood.Over 80 million units of blood are donated every year around the world,but less than one in four of them are collected in developing countries where 82 per cent of the world’s population live.

Sally Rahman, a biomedical scientist at our Tooting blood centre, is originally from Sudan. She Most people in the world don’t have access to safe knew that the Sudanese blood service needed blood. Over 80 million units of blood are donated training in blood safety, so, with the help of NBS every year around the world, but less than one in International, she led a two week project, with four of them are collected in developing countries medical staff, to train the Sudanese in basic transfusion medicine and science. where 82 per cent of the world’s population live. She says, "We made a big difference to Sudan’s transfusion practice and knowledge in just two weeks - I’d like to help Our International Blood Group Referencing Laboratory (IBGRL), again." based in Bristol, has led the world in the discovery of new blood Volunteer donors groups and many other aspects of blood group research. One of its most valuable resources is the International Rare Donor Doctors in developing countries Panel which lists about 4,000 rare donors from 59 centres also visit us. In 2003 Dr Foluke in 25 countries. Fasola came to our blood centre With about one person in every 1,000 having a rare blood in Liverpool from Nigeria. type, the laboratory is regularly asked to identify possible rare Foluke’s biggest challenge is a donors for patients anywhere in the world. lack of donors. She explains, "In A recent case involved a new-born baby in Portugal with a Nigeria, most people donate only rare blood group. A search of the rare donor panel revealed when a family member needs three compatible donors – but all were thousands of miles away blood. So it can be hard to in Australia, the USA and South Africa. motivate the rest of the Joyce Poole from IBGRL takes up the story. "By chance, we population to volunteer." had recently identified a blood donor from Northern Ireland who Through her trip to Liverpool, had one of the rarest blood types ever found. We cross-matched Foluke has been able to take cells from this donor against the mother’s serum and they were some of our recruitment compatible. We then organised for the donor to give blood methods back to Nigeria: "We have now employed especially for this baby and recruitment organisers and are the unit was flown from Belfast to Lisbon. The baby was able to offer refreshments to our successfully transfused and is doing very well now." donors. Our voluntary donor

Hands-on

Sharing rare blood

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THE DONOR SPRING 2004

drive has really improved," she says.

Customer service According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in America needs a blood transfusion, and yet just five per cent of the eligible population give blood. In 2004, our Newcastle Blood Centre had a visit from Beth Daniell of the American Red Cross. "I wanted to observe how donor recruitment works in the UK," she says. "I visited a mobile session, and while it looked very similar to one of our sessions, your staff showed more attention to detail. "You obviously spend time doing research into what your donors want. I was impressed that you send donors a health check form to their home as this saves time at the session. We ask the same questions for every donor at each session and our regulars, whilst understanding the need for it, do get a bit tired of it."

International recycling Developing countries need equipment as well as expertise. So our staff have been arranging shipments of equipment through charities like AfriMed, is a small charity working in Sudan, whose team hopes to extend its work right across Africa. Dr Daniel McCloskey, co-founder of the charity with BBC reporter and presenter Zeinab Badawi, says, "The NBS have been really supportive. So far we’ve had blood bag centrifuges – machines which spin and separate the blood into component parts – beds for donors and other equipment for blood donor sessions." He adds, "It is absolutely essential that the equipment we send out is suitable for the job – that it’s in date, in good working order and can be serviced and maintained at affordable costs." It’s not only equipment that we’re shipping over to Sudan. We’re backing an AfriMed initiative to

Above:staff from Gamblood are already benefitting from NBS International help and equipment establish a voluntary blood transfusion service there. It’s going well: there’s now a centre, a medical team to run it, and vehicles for mobile sessions. The next step is to recruit new donors.

Holiday help Sometimes an opportunity to help just happens. While on holiday in Gambia, donor carer Janette Phillips discovered the difficulties the Gambia blood service Gamblood faces. ‘The hotel manager noticed me using one of our ‘Give blood’ pens," says Janette. ‘He took me to a blood donor session at a hospital in Banjul. I was saddened by how little equipment they had – no scales to weigh the blood or posters to advertise the session." Back in the UK, Janette arranged for scales and other equipment to be sent to Gamblood, and has since returned to offer a helping hand at sessions. This representsis a truly international effort and we hope you’ll agree! ● SPRING 2004 THE DONOR

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OVER TO YOU ★★★★★★★★★★★★STAR LETTER★★★★★★★★★★★★ LESS THAN AN ARMFUL!

A STAR LETTER is chosen for every issue. The winner will be invited to a behind the scenes tour of a Blood Centre. He or she will don a white coat and see what happens to a donation of blood.

I took my 8-year-old son, Sam, with me when I gave blood yesterday in Rawtenstall. He hasn't been before, and after I'd had the fingerprick test and the nurse had taken a small drop of blood, Sam asked me what we had to do now. I said I had to wait until there was a bed free and then I'd give blood. "But you've already given it!" he said indignantly. If only it were that simple! I'd just like to thank the staff there for being so friendly towards Sam.They brought him some quizzes to do and made sure that he was well supplied with drinks and biscuits. Sam enjoyed himself so much that he can't wait for the next time, and at least he'll know what to expect now! LIZ MCINNES BY EMAIL Sam and Liz

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: I’m glad Sam enjoyed his first donor session. His comment certainly brought a smile to our faces.

★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ 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 thedonor@nbs.nhs.uk

Donor Health Checks I normally give blood at Frome, Somerset but I wish to donate next at Shepton Mallet. I phoned to ask for a donor health questionnaire form so that I could complete it before arriving at the session. I was told that I could wait for one to be sent to me for the usual location, or fill one in when I attended the Shepton session. What is so difficult about sending me a form by post or email? Do you want to encourage

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blood donation or not?

thought I’d go along with my husband and son to a session. Anyway, for three or four EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Unfortunately, we can only send out times now I have not received an a Donor Health Check ques- invitation. Why? tionnaire (DHC) through the PAULINE MAPELEY, MILTON KEYNES post as part of an automatic EDITOR’S RESPONSE: We aim invitation letter. We are work- to ensure that we have adeing towards making DHCs quate stocks of all blood available to callers through groups to issue to hospitals. our Helpline. As you know, your blood In the meantime, you are wel- group, AB positive, is quite come to bring a DHC that you rare, which means that the received with your invitation demand for it is not as high as letter to a different session, for some of the more common and of course we can print one groups. We still need your out for you at session. blood of course, but we will not invite you to sessions as Why don’t you invite me frequently as donors with the more common blood groups. to a session? I became a blood donor about two years ago. My GP kept say- Brilliant Bloodmobiles ing I should consider it as my I’ve just returned from my first blood group is AB positive and is experience of giving blood in a one of the rarer groups. I Bloodmobile, my 60th donation. MARCUS BARTON BY EMAIL

THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦ Paws for thought Phil Dodds, a leisure centre manager from Sandhurst, Berkshire, has given 47 donations over the past 22 years. Nothing unusual in that you may think – except that he’s just taken Charlie, his red brindle greyhound, to donate his first pint at the vet’s. Now while Phil knows the ropes, Charlie certainly doesn’t. So the vet gave him a special "Doggie Donor Health Check", asking Phil about Charlie’s health and fitness to ensure he was up to the job. Then Charlie was sedated and 450 ml of blood was taken from his neck. Charlie seemed relaxed about the whole thing – although it took all day! Says Phil, "We humans definitely get the best deal. I’ve never been sedated and these days with the appointment system I’m usually in and out within 45 minutes." Vets are increasingly using blood transfusions to treat sick and injured dogs. That means 'bloodhounds' like Charlie are real lifesavers too! ●

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SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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OVER TO YOU and did the crossword. We’ve now spent a week fiddling with the highlighted squares letters. I’m sure you’ve got something wrong somewhere! The only two words we can make out of the letters are: PREVIOUS THESIS. They also make: THRIVE, O PUSSIES and SUE IS T’HOVIS REP (my favourite; say it with a Yorkshire accent). Thanks for the puzzle with a difference and a couple of hours of idle amusement. CHRISTINE EVANS, READING

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Christine wasn’t the only one to write and ask if we’d got the letters wrong. No doubt she and the others will have turned to our competition page to discover the answer was RHESUS POSITIVE. ●

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

Q

I usually go to my company’s donor session and wanted to check the details from your website but couldn’t find any information there.I thought you planned several months in advance.

A

We do plan months, sometimes years in advance, but we only list those sessions which are for the public on our website. If you call the donor helpline on 0845 7 711 711 they will be able to give you the dates. However you may need to make an appointment through your company’s contact.

Q

Why not introduce a donor card with a photo on it? If

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someone stole my card and pretended to be me,the wrong blood group could be in the bag.

A

Don’t worry, even if someone took your card, we check the blood group of every donation against our computer record of the donor. Our testing system would alert us if a donation had a different group to that recorded for the donor.

Q

How long should it take for all my donations to appear on my donor record? Some I made aren’t recorded.

A

Currently, we do not have a national database of donor details.We have condensed 14 regional systems down to three, but

THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

the task of amalgamating them is such a huge undertaking, it will take some time. If you let us have details of your missing donations we can add them to your record.

Q

When I haven’t been able to donate because my haemoglobin level is borderline,why do I have to wait 16 weeks before my next donation?

A

This gap allows one month for your blood count to recover, and three months for your iron stores to be replenished (as they would have been low).This is on the best advice of expert haematologists - we do not want our regular donors becoming anaemic or iron deficient. ●

Hidden invaders We want donated blood to be as safe as possible for donor and patient. That’s why we test every donation for a tiny virus with a big name – Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV).

V

iruses are incredibly tiny bundles of genetic material that survive inside living cells. They may be the smallest existing life form, but they can cause serious health problems in people. A virus cannot reproduce by itself, so it has to live inside a cell and use the genetic material from that ‘host cell’ to make new copies of itself. Some viruses cause only mild symptoms – colds for examples. Others produce no immediate symptoms, but can cause serious long-term health risks to us. One particular virus of interest to us is the human T-lymphotropic migrated around the world. The virus (HTLV). virus is endemic (present in the population most of the time) in An age-old problem the Caribbean, Japan, South HTLV is a very old virus that has America and in parts of Africa. It is now thought to infect infected humans for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years. It is around 20 million people worldthought to have spread as people wide. Most people in Europe

WHAT ARE T-CELLS? T-lymphocytes or T-cells are white blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow and mature in the thymus gland which is found at the top of the chest cavity (hence T-cell). They are part of the body’s defence system, helping it to fight off various bacteria and fungi, recognise and reject foreign tissues, and make antibodies. T-lymphocytes also provide defence against cancer.

DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY INC

before the date given (but still 16 weeks after my last session), and sometimes I cannot attend the session given and have to attend a later session. Is it worth going to the earliest session I can attend, or is it worth waiting until I am invited to a session in case you already have enough HELEN STARNES BY EMAIL EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Thank blood stocks? you. Our bloodmobiles are VASKOR BASAK BY EMAIL certainly popular. As they only EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Please require a parking space, they donate at whichever session is give us the opportunity to hold convenient for you. As you say, sessions in more local areas. providing it is more than 16 weeks since you last donated, you can donate at the venue Right timing I’ve donated blood for several you find most convenient. years now and receive regular invitation letters to sessions. Crossword puzzled! Sometimes I find I could attend a Thanks for The Donor magazine. session at a different venue I’m having a break in Cornwall I was most impressed how compact the vehicle was and excellently fitted out. In spite of being a very busy day, with far more donors than expected, the professionalism of the staff was outstanding. Well done to the Horsham Bloodmobile team.

BLOOD FACTS

An image of an HTLV-1 virus attached to the surface of a human T-lymphocyte cell with the virus have either come from, or visited areas where the disease is endemic. HTVL is a particular type of virus called a retrovirus. It has two strains: HTLV-I and HTLV-II. Both infect a certain type of white blood cell called T-lymphocytes or T-cells (see box left). HTLV-I is associated with two different diseases – adult T-cell leukaemia lymphoma, and a disease of the spinal cord called HTLV-associated myelopathy,

SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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BONE MARROW

Beating leukaemia together

also known as tropical spastic paraparesis. HTLV-II is not linked with any specific disease.

Catching HTLV

Human T-cell Leukaemia Virus (HTLV-1)

Glycoprotien

D.BRIGHTY/UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE

NIBSC/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The virus is thought to be mainly transmitted from mother to baby at birth and by breast feeding. It can also be transmitted by sharing contaminated needles/ syringes, through sexual contact and blood transfusions. People with the HTLV infection are called carriers. Most carriers feel completely well and show no signs or symptoms of the

A)

Viral RNA

B)

Receptor

C)

T-CELL

Top:Image of HTLV particles (red) outside a T-cell (yellow). Above:A diagram of how they attach to and infect a human cell. A) Glycoproteins (blue) on virus surface form spikes. B) These attach to receptors on the T-cell surface. C) Viral RNA penetrates the host cell,where it can reproduce.

VIRUS FACTS Some viruses, such as influenza, can invade human cells, reproduce inside them and then burst out to infect other cells. By contrast, retroviruses work in a more cunning way. They are made of a type of genetic material called RNA (ribonucleic acid). The virus mixes its RNA with the genetic information, the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), contained inside the host cell itself. This then instructs the cell to produce more copies of the virus, which again can burst out and infect more cells. However, these modified cells, and the viral genetic code they contain, will die when the host dies, unless other organisms can be infected. Both HTLV and HIV are examples of retroviruses.

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THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

infection. Many only find out they are infected after they’ve given blood and tests show the presence of HTLV antibodies.

The HTLV test Because HTLV can be transmitted by blood transfusions, we screen all donated blood for the virus by testing for antibodies. "A positive antibody test result suggests that the person has been exposed to HTLV," explains NBS medical director Dr Angela Robinson. "The test does not show us when the person was infected, nor will it show if they are likely to become ill in the future." Only about one in twenty will go on to develop a related disease, sometimes many years or even decades after becoming infected. Although the diseases caused by the virus can be treated, at present there is no recognised treatment for HTLV itself, so anyone exposed to infection remains a carrier for life and will be unable to donate. ●

Seven years ago Olivia Papworth was seriously ill with leukaemia. Today, with the help of doctors and a life-saving bone marrow transplant, she’s a lively nine-year-old

E

ighteen-month-old Olivia Papworth loved her trips to mother and toddler group and playing with Wilson, the family’s golden retriever; but almost overnight she changed. "At first I thought it was just a stage," recalls her mother, Karen. "She wouldn’t leave my side, would cling to me and cry if I tried to put her down and always seemed to be poorly." Then, in May 1998, Olivia

developed symptoms that were far more worrying. "She began having nose bleeds, developed a rash, and was in so much pain we took her to Kings Lynn hospital," says Karen. "Within two hours of seeing a doctor, we were told Olivia had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. It didn’t really sink in at the time, especially as she was given a blood transfusion and really seemed to improve."

During the following two years Olivia underwent chemotherapy and needed frequent transfusions to replace the red cells and platelets destroyed by her treatment. By September 2000 she was well enough to start school, and all seemed fine. But only four months later, Olivia developed a limp, sending Karen, husband Gary, and Olivia back to the hospital. "When the doctors gently took us aside and told us the leukaemia was back, it hit us both hard: much harder than when she was diagnosed the first time. We had thought the leukaemia was behind us, and Olivia seemed so healthy and

SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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happy that we had trouble believing it," says Karen.

Finding a match Doctors suggested a bone marrow transplant, and Karen and Gary decided that this would be better for Olivia than another two years of gruelling intensive chemotherapy. "Both of us were tested to see if we could donate, but neither of us was a close enough match. Doctors searched the bone marrow registries to find a donor, and were so lucky it only took two months." Before the transplant, Karen and Gary tried to stay positive. "We tried to make things as normal for Olivia as possible. We stuck posters on the ceiling of the treatment room and Olivia would bring in her favourite stuffed dog toy and listen to S Club 7. She missed Wilson, our dog and when he visited her on the children’s ward it was wonderful to see her face light up." After the transplant, Olivia spent a month in isolation to prevent her picking up any infections. Once home, she returned with

Finding your perfect match Only about one in three patients who need bone marrow transplants can find a match within their immediate family, so most rely on the British Bone Marrow Registry or other worldwide registries to find suitable unrelated donors. With so many different tissue types, there needs to be a large register of many thousands of donors to increase the chance of finding a match between donor and patient. Some tissue types are more common in people from particular ethnic backgrounds which is why it is so important that the register contains donors from every ethnic community in the population.

Karen to the hospital three times a week for physiotherapy. The hospital also gave the family a large tricycle so Olivia could get extra exercise, and she began going out and playing with the other children again.

Olivia loves playing with baby sister Chloe

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THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

New arrival Olivia had another wonderful surprise on the way. "She had always wanted a little sister, and when I told her I was pregnant she was absolutely thrilled. We had hoped to have another child, but felt that we should wait until Olivia was well again first. Olivia adores Chloe, and they spend hours playing together. Whenever we go to the school to collect Olivia, Chloe will squeal with delight when she sees her." Karen says, "We’re just so grateful to the bone marrow donor whose generosity has let Olivia grow into the bubbly little girl she is today. Without this person, whom we know so little about, Olivia and Chloe might not be here and our family wouldn’t be so happy and complete." ● Potential bone marrow donors are always needed. To join the British Bone Marrow Register you must be a blood donor and between 18 and 44 years old. Interested? For more information ask at your next session or visit www.blood.co.uk

✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦ WRITE ON Maurice Bessman started donating at the age of 18, encouraged by colleagues where he worked. After serving in the RAF, Maurice followed a career in nursing, becoming a nurse teacher. Whilst working at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Maurice started writing for local radio. He also became a plasma donor, donating every few weeks. In 1991 Maurice gave up the day job to become a full time writer. Busier than ever, he’s still a regular at the donor centre - now donating platelets. His writing credits include local radio series, plays and scripts for TV’s Brookside, Casualty, Holby City and Hollyoaks. ●

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SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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MEET THE EXPERT

Staying in the red! Q A

Paul, what led you into your career? I’ve always liked science, so when a careers adviser told me there were training places at the Pathology Unit in Hereford Hospital I snapped one up. I suppose I was ‘bitten by the bug’, as I’m still loving it 30 years on! Are you a blood donor yourself? Yes, and it really helps me do my job. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to give blood so I encourage the team to treat every donation like a gift, and make sure it is used in the best possible way. How do you organise blood supplies for patients at the hospital? We work as a team: there’s myself and three colleagues. To start with we ring the NBS blood centre at Oxford, which is nearest to us, to order the blood. Patients in Northampton General need over 11,000 units of blood every year, so we require a daily delivery to our banks. Although I oversee the ordering, we are all responsible for ensuring our fridges are well stocked. Our overall aim is to make sure patients who need blood receive the right blood at the right

Q A

Left:Paul in the laboratory. Below:testing blood samples with a colleague

Q A

THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

time. We usually carry two to three days’ supply of red cells - platelets are a different story altogether. Do you keep platelets in stock at the bank? No. We order them when patients need them – and that can be hard to predict as patients’ platelet counts can fluctuate. On average, we’ll go through one or two packs of platelets per day, although we may go through seven packs one day then none for the rest of the week. What happens after you’ve received your order? We store all the blood in our fridges according to blood group. As well as managing the blood bank, I’m also chief biomedical scientist. I organise the testing of blood samples from patients who need a transfusion to

Q A

Q A

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“Our overall aim is to make sure patients who need blood receive the right blood at the right time.”

There’s more to being a blood bank manager than simply keeping supplies ‘in the red’. Paul Turner, chief biomedical scientist at Northampton General Hospital, tells the inside story

make sure their blood is compatible with the donated blood. What happens if you have an emergency case? We can complete all the tests within 30 minutes, but another option is to give the patient O rhesus (Rh) negative blood if the doctors cannot wait that long. This is OK for some patients but we much prefer to give them their own blood group and keep O Rh negative for babies and other patients with that particular group. How does blood get from the blood bank to the patient’s bedside? Once we have tested the patient’s blood sample against a donated unit, the blood is stored in our fridges and a staff member will collect it. It’s very important that even at the busiest times patients get the correct blood. We’re hoping to introduce a new electronic tracking system which will record who has taken the blood, how much has been taken and where it’s going. I’m very excited about this development, not only because Northampton will be one of the first hospitals to use it, but it will also ensure greater patient safety. Finally, what do you do after a hard day at the blood bank? Well I’m married to a nurse so it’s hard to get away from work! I have two grown up daughters, so I now have a bit more free time to spend at my allotment, where I grow fruit, vegetables and flowers organically – it’s a brilliant way to de-stress! ●

Q A

Q A

Q A

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ASK THE DOCTOR Our NBS doctor, Karen Cheng, answers common questions about iron and iron levels

Q

I know that the fingerprick test checks my iron levels, but what is iron? ‘Iron’ is often used to refer to haemoglobin, which is a

molecule found in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and also gives blood its red colour. Haemoglobin is made by your body using iron from the food you eat, hence the name.

Q

Does giving blood lower my iron levels? Could it make me anaemic? We actually set the ‘cut off’ point in our fingerprick test fairly high, because giving a donation of blood does reduce your haemoglobin levels. But don’t

All about iron worry, if your fingerprick test is fine, your haemoglobin level won’t drop below normal after your donation.

Q

I’m a vegetarian. Does my diet contain enough iron for me to give blood? It should do, providing you eat a well-balanced diet. However, vegetarians and vegans may need to take supplements of vitamin B12, which is found in meat and dairy products and helps the body produce healthy red blood cells. Your GP surgery or local hospital should be able to offer advice or put you in touch with a dietician. Alternatively look at the website of the British Dietetic Association, www.bda.uk.com

Q

At a session I was told that my iron level was low and so I couldn’t donate, but afterwards I got a letter advising that I didn’t need to see my GP. Should I be worried? Haemoglobin levels vary from person to person. Some people have a level which is normal for

Iron supplements A healthy diet should provide all the iron you need to donate. If you are including plenty of iron-rich food in your diet and your haemoglobin levels are still a bit low, this may need to be investigated. For this reason, we don’t recommend our donors take iron supplements.

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CROSSWORD

THE DONOR SUMMER 2005

them, but lower than most. Women tend to have lower haemoglobin levels than men, and levels can even be affected by the weather! We sometimes get more ‘low’ readings on hot days. Many people have a haemoglobin level which means they fall below the ‘cut-off’ where they can donate blood, yet it is enough for them to be perfectly healthy. But if a donor’s haemoglobin level appears to be below a ‘normal’ level on session, we always carry out further tests on a sample of their blood in the laboratory and advise them on any action they need to take, so don’t worry! ●

Any old iron? Most of us know red meat contains lots of iron, but there are other important sources too. And did you know that vitamin C helps your body absorb iron? So don’t forget the oranges! Good sources of iron are: Lean red meat Liver Kidney Oily fish Fortified breakfast cereals

Other sources of iron: Eggs Nuts Wholemeal bread Dried fruit Beans Lentils Fresh green vegetables

Complete the crossword, then rearrange the letters in the highlighted squares to make a three word phrase relating to the NBS. Send the words on a postcard together with your name, address and daytime phone number to Crossword Competition, The Donor, NBS, West Derby Street, Liverpool L7 8TW. You could win a new ‘Amazing’ NBS sports umbrella. Answers and winners will be in the next issue of The Donor. All entries must be received by September 30th 2005. ACROSS 1 4 8 10 11 12

The study of light (6) Changes (6) Aerial (7) Precise (5) Customer at hotel (5) Motto of the Prince of Wales (3,4) 13 Droop (3) 15 Gracefully slender (5) 16 Wife of Adam (3) 18 Country person of low status (7) 19 Not affected by alcohol (5) 21 Garlic mayonnaise (5) 22 Something ugly to look at (7) 23 South Pacific skirt (6) 24 Owing money (2,4)

DOWN 1 2 3 5

Fruit (7) Mr, for example (5) Orion is one (13) European principality (13) 6 Look at closely (7)

7 9 14 17 18 20

Smooth fabric (5) Greek philosopher (9) Alluring charm (7) Serious in intent (7) Schemes (5) Chap (5)

LAST ISSUE’S SOLUTION

WE HAVE A WINNER! Congratulations to Ian Penny of Basingstoke, Hampshire who correctly answered last issue’s crossword.The correct answer was RHESUS POSITIVE. SUMMER 2005 THE DONOR

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PLATELET DONATION Could you help even more? Become a platelet donor. For more information, please ask at your next session or call the Donor Helpline on 0845 7 711 711. Louis Maclaren really is a miracle baby. His parents Amanda and Lee lost nine babies during pregnancy. Their only hope was for any future baby to undergo a complex and risky series of platelet transfusions in the womb. Thanks to 13 transfusions, Louis, the child they longed for, arrived safely.

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 information is also available on our website www.blood.co.uk BBC2 Ceefax page 465 will give you details of blood donor sessions in your TV region over the next two days.

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THE DONOR SUMMER SPRING 2004 2005

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

/

/

ADDRESS

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 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.


The Donor - Summer 2005