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NEWS AND INFORMATION FOR BLOOD DONORS

SUMMER 2007

ALL IN THE MIX

Treating cancer We explain the vital role your donations play

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PLUS ✦ NEWS ✦ LETTERS ✦ AND MORE...


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TONY WARD/SCOPE FEATURES.COM

COVER STORIES

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“Blood isn’t just for major disasters”

Actress Sue Nicholls is known to millions as Audrey Roberts in Coronation Street. She talks about being a patient, a donor, and life on the Street

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Book it!

Grab your diary and bring it to your next session. Our new appointments system is rolling out and we need everyone to back our ‘Book it’ drive

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Two of a kind

Two girls became firm friends when they both donated their bone marrow

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10 Treating cancer: why blood is so vital Many cancer patients couldn’t survive their illness or their treatments without blood products. We explain the vital role your donations play

STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Book your next appointment when you next give blood…

In this issue 13 “I really thought I might not make it…” It took 33 units of blood and skilled medical care to save Mike Austin’s life

15 Dogs can be heroes too! PAGE 10

Just like people, pets can benefit from a blood transfusion. Now there’s an animal blood donor register for dogs and cats

16 It’s all in the mix How we create life-saving blood products from your donation

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20 Over to you

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Catch up with readers’ letters, plus health Q&As

21 Why Steve is not faint-hearted Seventy five donations and Steve Abbott still faints if he sees blood!

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WED As soon as you arrive at your session, ask to book your next one. Remember to bring your diary, and please come on time!

See page 8 for further details

WRITE AND TELL US your news, views and interesting or unusual donor stories. Write to The Editor, The Donor, NBS, Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5BG or email thedonor@nbs.nhs.uk

23 The miracle of cord blood Over 10,000 mothers have donated their cord blood to the NHS Cord Blood Bank, helping to save the lives of patients all over the world

26 Saving Sanjay Desperately ill Sanjay needed a lung transplant. But could a donor be found? (Pictured right)

28 How donated skin saves lives Meet plastic surgeon and burns consultant Baljit Dheansa

30 Ask The Doctor Pat Hewitt answers your questions about vCJD

31 Crossword Another prize-winning puzzle

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) which is part of NHS Blood and Transplant. Reproduction in whole or part is strictly forbidden without the prior permission of NHSBT. Larger print versions are available via the website. Design and production: Ant Creative (London). Reproduction: Portland Media (London). Printed by The Stationery Office on 100% recycled paper.

Save a life Give blood

SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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COVER STORY

“Blood isn’t just for major disasters”

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TV TIMES/SCOPE FEATURES

Sue Nicholls is known to millions as Audrey Roberts in the world’s longest running TV soap, Coronation Street.She talks about being a patient, a donor, and almost 30 years of life on the Street from the bottom of my heart. You never know when you might need blood. Blood isn’t just for when there is a major disaster - it is needed all the time. I always thought giving blood was a bit of an adventure – being a little nervous, then the great feeling once you had donated. After I’d finished the tea and biscuits I would often reward myself by

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

going shopping for a little treat. Save a life and spoil yourself, all in a couple of hours! What sparked your interest in performing? As a child I absolutely loved singing and dancing. My parents would often go to the theatre in Wolverhampton and once we were old enough they started taking us. Also Grandma was a

publican and I remember her regularly gathering us round the piano for a singsong. So I first started out as a singer and dancer before moving into acting and I must say I still love all three. Between leaving Crossroads and joining the Street I did a great deal of theatre work and variety shows. It would be nice to do something like that again. Who have you enjoyed working with the most? I’ve spent so much time working with lots and lots of people and I can honestly say there is no one I haven’t enjoyed working with. I’m still learning even now, and it is great performing with the younger actors. I really enjoyed working with Sir Ian McKellen, and was fortunate to share a number of scenes with him. And of course some big, big characters, on and off screen, have left the show but it is a national institution and the

On stage in 1985 with Jim Davidson in Up the Elephant & Round the Castle show goes on. Personally I was sad when Amanda Barrie (Alma Baldwin) and John Savident (Fred Elliott) left because I spent so much time with them and they are great actors and friends. When Bryan Mosley (Alf Roberts) left that was difficult because we spent so much time together.

With the strong sense of community on Coronation Street do you think a blood session scene would be popular with audiences? Well I think it would be a wonderful idea for the characters to start giving blood; it might show that there is nothing to be worried about and even encourage more people to think about giving. In fact I will remind all the younger cast members how important giving blood is next time I see them! ●

LIFE STORY

● Born on 23 November 194

3 in Walsall, West Midlands ● 1964 joined the soap Cros sroads as Marilyn Gates ● 1976 starred in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin wit h Leonard Rossiter ● 1979 joined Coronation Street as single mother Audrey Pot ter ● 1981 played Nadia Popov in children’s TV show Rentag host. ● SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

SCOPEFEATURES.COM

TONY WARD/SCOPEFEATURES.COM

Is it right that you needed a blood transfusion? Yes, it was back in 1987. I was working in Manchester and feeling poorly. I did see the doctor, who said I should take a break. So I travelled back to London to get some rest but by the time my train got there I felt very ill indeed. Luckily I had arranged for my husband to pick me up. I must have been in a bad way because he took me straight to the hospital. How much blood did you need? The doctors were very worried about my condition – it turned out I was seriously anaemic. I needed six units of blood to help me pull through, which made me glad I’d donated in the past. So you were a regular donor? Yes, my sister encouraged me to start - she was a very loyal donor. It wasn’t easy for me to find time to give but I got there as often as I could. I remember getting my badge for my tenth donation and I still have the old book somewhere. The staff were always very welcoming both in London and here in Manchester. What would you say to encourage people to donate? Well I would really like to thank those people who helped me,

“It turned out I was seriously anaemic. I needed six units of blood to help me pull through, which made me glad I’d donated in the past”

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

Calling all teachers

Double the donation Record for organ donation

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e’re launching a new, free education resource for teachers to help them spread the word about all types of donation - blood, bone marrow, tissue and organ - amongst 14 to 16 year-olds. The ‘Give and let live’ resource is designed to explore the difference that each student could potentially make to others’ lives. It consists of a teacher’s pack and web site and includes real case studies and interactive activities. The resource supports Citizenship, Science, and Personal, Social and Health Education within the curriculum. Every school will be contacted about the September launch. If you’re interested in using the packs in your school then make sure that you or your colleagues place an order. Get details at www.giveandletlive.co.uk or call 0870 242 5572. 

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f you’re one of those donors who grit their teeth when the needle goes in, we’ve got good news. We’re trialling two anaesthetics, a cream and a gel, which are applied to the skin on your arm before the needle is used. The NHS already uses the products, but we want to test how suitable they are for you and our staff at donor sessions. Five of our collection teams are taking part in the trials, and if these are successful we’ll select the best one and roll it out across the country. 

Just a click away Medical research breakthrough thanks to donors

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ver 30,000 of you have used our Blood Donor Online internet service since we launched it last July. The service allows you to book appointments and update personal information easily. So far, 7,000 appointments have been made using the site. To register go to www.blood.co.uk/ BloodDonorOnline. If you have any problems using this service, please call us on 0845 7 711 711. 

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lood donors have played an essential role in a medical research project which has discovered 24 ‘genetic markers’ for seven major diseases. The information has given researchers a detailed understanding of the genetic roots of common diseases, helping them to develop tests for early diagnosis and improve prevention and treatment. Two thousand DNA samples were taken from patients suffering from coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 1 and 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease (an inflammatory bowel disease) and bipolar disorder (a mental illness). These samples were compared to two groups of 1,500

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

healthy individuals – one of them blood donors. Each donor gave their consent to take part in the research project and extra blood samples were taken from them as they gave their donation. From these samples an anonymous archive of reference material was created. The groundbreaking project was co-ordinated by our research team working closely with the University of Cambridge. Dr Willem Ouwehand, who led our team, says, “We should not forget that all donors gave their samples as a gift without receiving any benefits. They have been key in helping shape medical care and treatments for future generations.” 

ould you like to give blood two or three times a year, but find your busy life means you simply can’t fit it in? Perhaps we can help. We’re rolling out a new system for red cell donation at donor centres across the country that allows suitable donors to give double the amount. Donors make their donation through a cell separator machine which takes their blood and spins it so that just the red cells are taken out. The machine then returns the rest of their blood back to them. Because only red cells are donated, a double donation is safe for suitable donors. In all, the process takes around 30 minutes and eligible donors can donate in this way every eight months. Eligible donors must weigh over 11st (70kg) and have 140g/l level of haemoglobin. 

Big Birmingham day out H

ere’s Jasper Carrott and Billy Blood Drop celebrating the first ever Big Birmingham Donor Day on April 30th. The day was designed to encourage more Midlanders to sign up as a blood, organ or bone marrow donor, and we were there to add support. Brummie funny man Carrott was also joined by athletes from the British and Birmingham Transplant Games Team, plus local band 4Sure, who made their mark on the hit TV series The X Factor. Andrew Fisher from the group set an example by giving his first blood donation. Lord Mayor, Counsellor Mike Sharpe, said: “It is an honour for me to support this event. Donating blood, bone marrow, or signing up as an organ donor, really does save lives.”

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record number of patients received an organ transplant last year. New figures from UK Transplant show that 3,074 patients received a transplant in 2006/07. It’s good news too at the NHS Organ Donor Register where a record 14.2 million people have signed up. Emily Thackray,23,from Epsom,Surrey who More than a million new received a lifesaving signatures were collected double lung transplant in 2006. Despite this there is still a shortage of organs. Around 9,000 people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant and last year more than 400 people died before they could receive one. Maxine Walter from UK Transplant says, “All of us could discuss our views on organ donation with the people closest to us. By doing so, and joining the register, people can make a central and more lasting record of their donation wishes.”

Right patient, right blood

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ew measures to improve the safety of blood transfusions have been announced by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA).Photo ID cards for regular patients and electronic tracking systems for patients and blood are amongst the recommendations.All NHS organisations that administer blood must consider the new measures, and hospitals are looking at how they intend to implement the actions. Meanwhile,a new bar-coding system is being tried out that electronically records and tracks blood.It is designed to alert hospital staff if blood is going to be given to the wrong patient,or if the blood has not been properly stored and is no longer suitable for transfusion. SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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APPOINTMENTS

Book it! Grab your diary and bring it along to your next session. Our new appointments system is rolling out across the country and we need your support to make it happen

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ver a third of you now make an appointment to give blood and the number is growing. We hope to make this figure even higher. But we’ll only achieve this with your support. We know we have to make our appointments system fast and convenient to use. That’s why you’ll soon be able to book and donate at the same time. Just bring your diary to the session and make a date for next time (generally about 16 weeks ahead) and that’s it. Also there is no more hassle remembering to call us to make an appointment; it’s very simple. Richard Fry, director of donor services, says, “We really hope these improvements will encourage more of you to book an appointment. When you book, we have a much better idea of how many people to expect at a particular session and so how many staff we need in order to run it. “We believe this, and avoiding peaks and troughs in attendance, will help avoid bottlenecks, cut

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waiting times and even save us sending out all those invitations. Even though not everybody can make an appointment, this system really does need as many people as possible to book ahead

When will I be able to book on session? NOW

South West, Trent, South East

SUMMER

West Midlands, South, North West

LATE SUMMER

London, Yorkshire & North, Anglia

in order to work. It will still be possible to walk in to your local session and donate if you haven’t booked, but please remember that donors who are there with appointments at this time will usually be seen first.”

Booking the next session Our blood collection teams across the country are putting in place the new appointments system, and by the end of this summer everyone should be able to book for their next donation when they go to give blood. Making a date to donate is easy. Just tell a member of staff when you first arrive at session.

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

Just make sure you have your diary with you! Your appointment will be booked before you go for your health screening to allow you to get on with the important business of giving blood. We will then contact you again with a reminder of the date and time closer to the session. If you can’t make an appointment at your session, you can still book one by visiting Blood Donor Online (to join go to www.blood.co.uk and click on the link) or calling our Helpline. And please remember to call and cancel your appointment if for any reason you can’t attend. ●

✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦ Two of a kind Good friends Vikki Lock, 22 (left), and Natasha Motterham, 24, met under rather unusual circumstances. The two girls went into the same hospital on the same day to donate their bone marrow and made an instant bond when their consultant introduced them to each other. Both had joined the British Bone Marrow Registry and ended up making a friend for life in the process. Vikki, who flew back from her teaching job in Spain to donate, says, “Although we both had family with us at the hospital, it was great to have someone there to share the experience with and chat to.” Both girls come from the South West, love musicals and enjoy travel. “The coincidences in our life are scary really,” says Natasha. “We have so much in common, even the fact that we’ve both chosen teaching as a career!” ●

✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦ SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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BLOOD FACTS

Treating cancer: why blood is so vital Many cancer patients couldn’t survive without blood products. We explain the vital role your donations play Of course, not all cancer sufferers are the same. A typical breast cancer patient might only need one or two red cell transfusions and no platelet transfusions as part of their specific treatment. But an adult acute leukaemia

Common cancers and their treatment In the UK over half of all cancer patients suffer from one of four common types of the disease*: – breast cancer

– lung cancer

– bowel cancer

– prostate cancer

(non-melanoma skin cancer is common but treatable so is not included here) For many of these patients, surgery will be the first line of treatment, and chemotherapy may be given to shrink tumours and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy targets cancerous cells that are rapidly reproducing and destroys them. Unfortunately it can also kill healthy cells such as new blood cells in the bone marrow. Sometimes this results in severe anaemia. If the patient’s platelet count is low, their blood will be unable to clot properly, causing them to bruise easily. Whatever type of treatment is used for cancer, patients will probably need blood transfusions to provide the blood cells that they need. This is why your donation is so vital to help patients fight their battle against cancer. ● *Cancer Research, 2003

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THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

patient might receive four units of red cells and up to ten platelet transfusions with each course of intensive chemotherapy, just to survive the treatment. With up to six courses of intensive chemotherapy needed, this adds up to a huge number of transfusions. Cancer patients don’t simply suffer from the cancer itself. Many patients with advanced cancers have ‘anaemia of chronic disease’. This occurs when they are so unwell that their bone marrow produces fewer red cells than normal. A low red cell count causes anaemia, making the patient feel weak and breathless. This could potentially affect their responsiveness to treatment and their recovery time. So giving a red cell transfusion is vital in helping the patient.

How red cells help Red cells can help make certain treatments more effective too. There’s evidence that radiotherapy works better if the patient has a good level of haemoglobin in their blood

STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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ne person in three will develop cancer at some time in their life. And whilst surgery, chemotherapy, drugs and bone marrow transplants are in the front line for treating the disease, blood products such as red cells and platelets also play a vital role. In fact around a fifth of all the red blood cells used in hospitals up and down the country go to cancer patients.

“ It’s worth remembering that some major and complicated cancer operations would simply not be possible without blood transfusions.”

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – an increase in white blood cells (coloured purple) causes a reduction in red blood cells (coloured red) and other blood components.Treatment includes red cell transfusions.

(haemoglobin is found in the red cells and carries oxygen around the body).This is because more oxygen getting to the cancer cells can make radiotherapy much more effective. Red cells can also help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, as well as patients taking strong drugs common in cancer treatment. Such treatments temporarily affect the blood cell production in bone marrow, so patients feel weak and unwell. In general, cancer patients are transfused with red cells to keep their haemoglobin at a level where they feel well. Nowadays most biopsies and straightforward cancer surgery, such as removing localised tumours in the breast or colon, can be done without red cell

transfusions. Where the surgery to remove the tumour is more complicated, patients may need

blood during the operation itself. It’s worth remembering that some major and complicated cancer operations would simply not be possible without the patient receiving blood transfusions.

Platelet donation is a vital element in the fight against cancer and in helping patients to tolerate chemotherapy

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PATIENT STORY Vital platelets

The other kind of blood product used to treat cancer patients is a transfusion of white cells. These are occasionally used to treat serious infections in patients who have very low white cell counts following chemotherapy. But it’s now more common to use powerful antibiotics and drugs to stimulate the patient's own white cells. Sadly not all cancer patients can be cured. This is when palliative treatment becomes the only option. During this time, blood products can make a real difference to a patient’s quality of life, as well as extending the time they can spend with family and friends by precious weeks or months.●

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Blood really did give the Shackleton family the precious extra time they needed to spend with Alwyne, wife to Brian, mother of Rachel (pictured right), and grandma to Sara. Alwyne was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia and needed literally hundreds of red cell and platelet transfusions during her four year fight with the illness. Alwyne died in 2002 but the transfusions she received kept her alive for long enough to meet her granddaughter, Sara. Sara’s mum, Rachel, says, “Our family will never forget that at least 307 donations gave my mum the time she needed to welcome Sara into the world. Sara still remembers her grandma.” ●

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otorsport fanatic, Mike Austin, 34, will never forget the summer of 2006. On his way to work on his much loved Kawasaki ZX-7R motorbike, he collided with a car. The accident was devastating. “The impact of the crash trapped my leg between my bike and the car,” says Mike. “My body was slumped over and I knew my leg was in a bad way, but I didn’t feel any pain.”

“I’m glad to be alive and appreciate each and every day. And,without blood donors I would not be here” An ambulance and paramedics soon arrived and they spent over 45 minutes trying to stabilise Mike before he could be taken to Leighton Hospital in Crewe. The crash had almost destroyed Mike’s leg – all the skin and muscle had been torn from it, the bones were shattered, and his femoral artery was badly damaged. “The paramedics chatted to me at the side of the road for what seemed to be five minutes

It took 33 units of blood and skilled medical care to save Mike Austin’s life. Now he’s raring to get back on a bike

OLLY BALL

Buying extra time

White cells

“I really thought I might not make it…” DR YORGOS NIKAS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Platelets are just as important as red cells for treating cancer. They make up only a small amount of a whole blood donation but they are real life savers. These tiny cell fragments help the blood to clot; with too few, a patient is at risk of spontaneous and lifethreatening, internal bleeding. When a patient needs chemotherapy – and many kinds of cancers are treated this way, particularly bone and blood cancers such as leukaemia – platelet numbers dip. Platelet transfusions will then be given as a preventative measure. Trials are currently taking place to see whether prevention is the Above:A blood platelet among red blood cells.Here,the platelet is best option, or whether patients coloured white.The structures sticking out from the cell surface would benefit from a platelet mean the platelet is ‘activated’,causing the blood to clot. transfusion only if bleeding starts.

or so before I was on my way to hospital,” recalls Mike. “As soon as I arrived at A&E blood was pumped into each arm and another bag was attached to my neck. The bags of blood were all being squeezed into me as I was losing blood faster than it could be transfused. I was still conscious but the doctors could not find a pulse and my chances of survival were becoming very slim.”

Transfusion Mike was quickly taken to theatre where surgeons tried their hardest to save his leg by putting in a plate and stitching everything back together. During

Mike is on the road to recovery after his motorbike accident the operation the entire volume of his blood had to be replaced four times. Two days later the doctors looked at his leg to see if the operation had worked. It was not good news. “I was told that my leg would need to be amputated,” says Mike. “I already knew from how it looked and smelt that it would not survive – there was simply nothing they could do. Even though I had already told myself my leg would be amputated, hearing the actual words was still heart-wrenching.

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ANIMAL DONORS “By the time I was told, the pain had become so bad that I was glad it was going to be done. Blood was clotting in my leg, which was poisoning the rest of my body – I really thought I might not make it to the operating table – I felt like I was drifting away.” In theatre, surgeons decided to amputate above the knee. Mike had dreaded this because an amputation above, rather than below, the knee would give him less movement with an artificial leg in the future. “When I woke up from my operation I could see from the covers that the amputation had been done above the knee. At that stage I was just glad to be alive. I could still barely move but there was a major improvement in my condition.” Mike was later transferred to North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, where plastic

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where I can be fitted with a flexible knee limb. This is some way off at the moment as I am going to need an operation due to complications that are causing pressure on my skin graft. “Before something like this happens it is easy to go through life blinkered, but now I’m glad to be alive and appreciate each and every day. And, without Positive for the future blood donors I definitely would After months of operations, not be here.” ● involving a total of 33 units of blood products, Mike is looking positively to the future and has far from lost his passion for motorsport and certainly hopes to ride again. He says, “I’m still working hard with my physio and hope to get in a position surgeons took over his treatment. “Skin was taken from my thigh and grafted onto the 60 sq inch (nearly 400 sq cm) wound. I knew after I had recovered from this final operation I could get back to Leighton Hospital to start my rehabilitation – that’s what kept me going through the toughest times.”

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Mike with his carer Julie

Dogs can be heroes too! Just like people, pets can benefit from a blood transfusion. Last year an animal blood donor register for dogs and cats was launched, and it’s already saving lives

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very year, hundreds of animals need blood transfusions. Pets get sick through blood diseases or lose blood after a serious accident, and donated blood can be a life-saver. While we humans can rely on hospital blood banks, until recently, vets had to rely on their own resources to find blood for sick animals. But in 2006 that all changed. The UK’s first online animal blood register – www.animalbloodregister.com – was set up to provide vets with quick and easy access to donor animals and their blood. The scheme is the brainchild of dedicated dog owner, Diana, whose own dog, Abi, needed three transfusions to combat a serious blood disease. Fortunately her vet was able to use blood from Diana’s three other dogs, which all had the same blood type as Abi. But Diana realised that not everyone is so lucky, and with this in mind she approached vet

An ideal donor has a nice temperament, is healthy, fully vaccinated and free from infection Dr Clive Elwood with a proposal for a national animal blood donor scheme. With his supervision, the ‘Animal Blood Register’ was created as a free-to-use resource to help vets find potential animal blood donations.

How it works The register stores information on potential dog and cat donors. It doesn’t actually provide blood. Owners enter their animals’ details onto the online database. Registered vets can then access this list to find potential donors. Like humans, cats and dogs have different blood groups and a suitable donor must be found. Once a match is found, the vet can request contact details for the owner and make a donation date with them. At the vet’s, the donor animal’s blood is collected from a large

accessible vein, usually in the neck or foreleg, into standard human blood bags or syringes. Cats tend to need sedating or anaesthetising, but placid dogs can donate without. After donation, the donor pet is rewarded with a light meal, and, no doubt, several strokes and pats! ●

Pet donor facts ● There are eight major blood groups found in dogs (same as in humans). ● The standard canine donation unit is 450ml for a 25kg dog (less from smaller breeds). A human donation is 470ml. ● Dogs can give blood every three months; we humans have to wait four. ● Cats donate blood depending on their weight: 11 – 13ml per kg. ●

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BLOOD FACTS

It’s all in the mix W

hen you donate blood you may think it’s given to a patient in just the way you donated it. Match the blood group up and that’s it. But the process is not nearly so simple. Hospitals rarely give whole blood. In fact its use is avoided

Your donation can be used to create an enormous range of life-saving blood products. It all depends on how we treat, test and store your blood But many patients require components that have gone through much more detailed blood grouping as well as

plasma and platelets. The white cells are normally filtered out. We use three methods to break whole blood up into its consistent parts – spinning, filtering and freeze/thawing. The spinning uses the weight of the various parts to divide the plasma from the red cells and the platelets. We use a gravity filter to separate the white cells, and a freeze/thaw process to break the plasma down further. This leaves us with the actual components of blood that are given to patients.

Red cells

Red cells are stored in walk-in fridges at between 2˚C and 6˚C due to the increased risks of vCJD transmission as well as allergic reactions. What we supply to hospitals are blood products – blood broken down into its components so doctors can give just the part the patient needs. Sitting on our blood bank shelves are all the various components of blood from the eight main blood groups.

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What we supply to hospitals are blood products – blood broken down into its components so doctors can give just the part the patient needs

extra tests to check for certain infections in the blood. There are other processes we can take these components through too. The result is literally hundreds of combinations of blood components, and a stock list to be proud of. At our processing laboratories, each donation is separated into its different parts – red cells,

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

These carry oxygen round your body. They are most commonly used to replace blood lost during surgery, after an injury or if the body’s red cell production is not working properly. Red cells can last for up to 35 days and are stored in large walkin fridges chilled to between 2ºC and 6ºC. The cold prevents bacteria from growing and keeps the red cells healthy. They must be used within four hours of leaving the fridge.

Platelets Platelets are cell-like particles that help blood to clot. Platelet transfusions are needed to help

treat many conditions such as bone marrow failure, platelet function disorders and during major surgery. Platelets are stored in special bags that can ‘breathe’ (carbon dioxide can escape and oxygen can enter the pack). If platelets are allowed to cool and settle they will clump together, so they need

to be gently rocked from side to side to keep them moving. They are stored at room temperature and only last for five days. They can last for up to seven days if they are additionally checked for bacterial contamination.

Plasma Plasma is a clear, straw-coloured

Donations to be given to babies and children are stored in special miniature blood bags called paedi-packs, shown below with a normal size blood bag. A single donation of whole blood is divided into a number of different paedi-pack units. It’s useful having blood from the same donor because if the child or baby needs several blood transfusions they are only exposed to blood from one person.

Size matters

liquid in which the platelets, red and white cells are carried. Plasma contains many other substances dissolved within it. The main ones related to blood transfusion are the clotting factors – proteins that work together with the platelets to help blood clot. You need the full range of these factors to ensure your blood clots properly. We supply hospitals with plasma in several forms. After separation, plasma is quickly frozen to –40ºC. Freezing preserves the clotting factors to create a product called Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP). FFP may be needed after loss of blood or to reverse any anticlotting treatment, or when clotting factors are not being produced sufficiently, such as when a patient is suffering from liver disease. It has to be quickly defrosted to be used in this way. If we slowly thaw FFP it forms a jelly-like substance. This is known as cryoprecipitate. It contains high levels of certain types of clotting factors such as factor VIII, (this is the missing factor in

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It’s all in the label

Blood pack labels follow an international labelling and numbering system which allows total traceability.

Unique donation number A fourteen-digit number, the first letter identifies the country the next four numbers show the blood centre. The next two digits show the year the blood was donated. The rest is the pack number itself. The final character which is surrounded by a box is known as the ‘check’ which confirms that all the other numbers have been entered correctly.

Blood group label Shows the blood group and the expiry date below. The pack must be used by midnight on this date.

Blood product label This describes the type of product and how to store it. Irradiated blood label This shows that the contents have been irradiated.

haemophiliacs) and is useful in transfusion medicine. Cryoprecipitate is also used during pregnancy if the mother does not produce the full range of clotting factors, or when a patient has suffered a massive loss of blood. The liquid that is left after the cryoprecipitate has formed is called cryo depleted plasma. The remaining clotting factors left in it can be used to help treat TTP, a disease that affects the plasma. We store all these plasma products at -40ºC.They can be kept for up to two years, but once thawed must be given to a patient within four hours.

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White cells White cells in a donation are not useful for most patients; indeed, they increase the risk of transmission of viruses from donor to patient. Normally white cells are taken out by the filters on our blood packs to produce ‘leucocyte depleted’ plasma, platelets and red cells. Occasionally white cells can help a patient with a lifethreatening illness such as acute leukaemia. There are five key types of white cells, and it’s the granulocyte type that is useful to patients. They ‘start up’ the body’s immune response by recognising the invading

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

Additional information The results of additional blood tests are shown here, also details of the site where the blood was processed and the date of the donation.

bacteria and killing them off. This response then triggers the other types of white cells to start producing antibodies. We get these granulocytes either from pre-filtered donations, or asking donors to give blood using a cell separator machine. These white cells only last for 24 hours and need to be stored at room temperature.

Additional processing Sometimes we will carry out additional processing to make sure there are no unwanted parts of the blood left behind in the donation. Some patients are very sensitive to even the smallest

further to get a more detailed picture of the many other blood groups that can be found on the red cells, white cells or even platelets. This means we can match donation to patient much more accurately so reducing the chance of adverse reactions.

Above: Packs of platelets are prepared during the processing of the blood. Above right: Cryo Depleted Plasma packed ready for storage. Right:Packs of FFP ready for dispatch. amount of plasma left on the red cells, so the plasma is removed by ‘washing’. Red cells are mixed with a saline solution and spun, then more saline is added. These are called ‘washed cells’ and they now have a shelf life of just 24 hours. Some patients have very rare or complex blood groups that require blood from our rare blood bank. This blood is frozen, thawed and washed before it is given to the patient. These cells are called ‘thawed and washed’. An extra safety measure for donated red cells or platelets is to kill any remaining white cells with a small dose of radiation. This process is only needed for a small number of patients who are at risk of a rare but serious complication of blood

Additional microbiological testing

transfusion caused by the white cells in the donated blood ‘attacking’ the patient’s cells. The plasma needed for some patients can also be treated even further. All FFP used for new-born babies and anyone born after 1st January 1996 is treated with a product called methylene blue. This is an additional measure to combat certain viruses.

Further blood group testing All donations are routinely tested for the ABO group and Rh D group. These need to be compatible to the patient and are essential for transfusion. Some donations are tested

All donations are tested to ensure they are free of syphilis, hepatitis B and C, HIV (AIDS) and HTLV. Additional tests are carried out on some donations for malaria and T-cruzi – (parasitic infections). However, there is one virus, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) that is so common in the population that we can’t exclude donors who have it as we’d run out of blood! It’s pretty harmless in healthy people, causing mild flu-like symptoms, but it could kill vulnerable patients. We find donors that have never had the virus and label the pack ‘CMV negative’. So you can see that we have a vast range of blood products ready to supply hospitals dealing with a huge range of patients’ conditions. Amazing!●

SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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OVER TO YOU ★★★★★★★★★★★★STAR LETTER★★★★★★★★★★★★

EARLY WARNING

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. (You must be 16 or over.)

After 77 donations, I ‘failed’ the haemoglobin test because of a low iron level. The doctor at the session took another blood sample and I was advised by letter to attend my doctor’s surgery to investigate the reason for my anaemia. My doctor arranged for me to visit the local hospital for an endoscopy and colonoscopy examination, which revealed I had a cancerous polyp on the large bowel. Within six weeks I had a successful operation to remove the cancer, with no further treatment required. I am writing this while recuperating at home, and would like to thank you for giving me this early warning, which just goes to prove giving blood can save lives – your own. ed his 75th Paul recently receiv n award donatio

PAUL ENGLAND BY EMAIL

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: There can be many reasons for anaemia and the haemoglobin test in your case highlighted a much more serious problem. We are delighted to hear that the cancer was treated so quickly and effectively, and we hope you are now fully recovered from the operation.

★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ This is your chance to tell us your news, views and interesting or unusual donor stories. Write to The Editor, The Donor, NBS Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5BG or email thedonor@nbs.nhs.uk

Floating donor As an occasional “floater” I found the haemoglobin article in the last issue most interesting. When I have “floated” the professionals always make me feel it is their fault rather than mine that a donation is missed. I enjoy the human stories in The Donor, try to take on board the facts and read it from cover to

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cover! Why? It is not too long; it doesn’t slide off the coffee table; it can be held in one hand and not an ad to be seen! Well done to everyone. PETER GAMBY, STEVENAGE

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: We are pleased you enjoy reading The Donor and like the new format. We always appreciate feedback from our readers.

Platelet donation After reading “More answers” in this section of the last edition of the magazine I felt prompted to write to you. I have donated 74 units of blood and at my last donation was asked to provide an extra sample to see if I was able to donate platelets. I

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

have now made four platelet donations. M.HANNON, LUTON

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: You are obviously a loyal and committed blood donor and it is wonderful news that you have decided to become a platelet donor. Any reader interested in becoming one can find out more from our website by visiting www.blood.co.uk or ask for more details at their next blood donor session.

My very special award I was really pleased to receive my silver award for 25 donations recently. The event was made extra special by the staff at the West End Donor Centre, who

✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦ Why Steve is not faint-hearted Bradford-born Steve Abbott has spent most of his TV and film career working with members of the Monty Python team. But the executive producer of gems such as ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ and Michael Palin’s travel series says he rates overcoming his fear of blood and reaching 75 donations up there with winning a Bafta. Steve gives blood three times a year and received his emerald award in 2006. He presented the award to his mother, Lily, who introduced Steve to donating and made over 60 donations herself. Steve’s commitment is especially impressive because he faints if he sees blood! He says that at a session, “I walk with my head in the air without really looking at anything and when I’m on the bed I can’t watch. If I was ever to see a bag of blood I'd keel over immediately.”●

✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦ SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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OVER TO YOU make every visit a pleasure with their kindness and courtesy. It was also special because I was able to go home and give my silver pin to my mother, who was staying with me at the time. If it wasn’t for your work then she wouldn’t have been there, as when she gave birth to my younger sister she haemorrhaged so badly that she nearly died. I am still so grateful to everyone who gives blood. It was really lovely to show her that I’ve been inspired to take the time to donate too.

important part that blood donation has played in yours and your family’s life.What you have told us shows perfectly the life-saving importance of donated blood. We hope your mother was pleased with the silver pin!

Sickle cell anaemia – correction

As a blood donor and also health professional working for a sickle cell service in South West London, it was heartening to see that you had chosen to include an article ‘Understanding sickle NAOMI HANKINSON BY EMAIL EDITOR’S RESPONSE:Congratulations cell anaemia’ (The Donor, Winter on receiving your silver 06). However, I was concerned award. It’s good to hear the to see it stated on page 11 that,

BEHIND THE SCENES ‘One unexpected benefit of sickle cell anaemia is that it offers some protection from malaria…’. I am sure that you meant to put sickle cell trait and not sickle cell anaemia. Malaria is a real killer for children with sickle cell anaemia and we always stress this to parents and patients. I do hope that you can correct this error. PIPPA GILLHAM BY EMAIL

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Thank you for pointing this out. Yes you are right it should have read ‘One unexpected benefit of Sickle Cell trait’. This was a genuine mistake and we apologise for any confusion this may have caused to readers. ●

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

Q

Could regular donors coming up to or just over 70 years of age be called on once a year to coincide with troughs in blood stocks (The Donor, Winter 06)? This could give us “golden oldies”the opportunity to donate for a few more years, with the age factor perhaps further offset by taking smaller amounts (75-80 per cent of the norm).

A

As people get older the risk of a heart attack and stroke increases. Our donor selection guidelines have been designed to reduce the risk of this happening during or shortly after donation.As with all possible changes, we have to balance the potential benefits against the safety of our donors. However, as for all our guidelines,

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the age limits are regularly reviewed and the donor guidelines may be changed in the future.

collection packs we use are premanufactured and designed to hold a minimum amount.

Q

Q

Could the Body Mass Index (BMI) ever replace the weight criterion for donors? Because this takes into account a person’s height as well as weight, perhaps more people would be eligible to donate blood.

A

The reason we have a 50kg minimum weight guideline for donors is because an individual’s blood volume is directly related to their weight.Taking a donation from a person below this weight could reduce their blood volume by more than the recommended 13 per cent. This can lead to fainting and anaemia.Taking a smaller volume is also not possible, because the

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

Acting Head of the NHS Cord Blood Bank Phyllis Teesdale (seated centre),with some of her staff

Regarding “Keeping supplies flowing”(The Donor, Winter 06) have you considered decreasing the amount of time between donations in order to keep the blood supply well-stocked?

A

We advise donors very strongly not to give blood more than three times in any 12 month period, and preferably at intervals of 16 weeks.We know that more frequent donation will almost certainly lead to reduced iron stores and ultimately anaemia and other symptoms. Our current practice is based on good evidence that very frequent whole blood donation, even in men, leads to deficiency in iron. ●

The miracle of cord blood Over 10,000 mothers have donated their cord blood to the NHS Cord Blood Bank, helping to save the lives of patients all over the world

C

ord blood, which is found in the placenta and umbilical cord following the birth of a baby, is rich in stem cells. These cells are building blocks which the body can use to make any kind of blood cell. The placenta and its valuable cord blood are usually

thrown away but the blood can be collected, stored and then used to treat patients with a life-threatening illness. Typical patients are those whose bone marrow is not working properly, perhaps through diseases such as leukaemia, genetic and metabolic

disorders or damage caused by medical treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy. If the bone marrow can’t function normally and make blood cells, sometimes the only way to help a patient is to replace it. Usually this is done by a transplant of donated bone marrow, which also contains stem cells, but the donor’s tissue type must be a good match with the patient. If there’s no suitable match, a stem cell transplant

SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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from a cord blood donation may be the patient’s best chance. The transplanted stem cells, from either source, naturally migrate to the bone marrow, where they start making new, healthy blood cells. Cord blood has helped many patients, and it even has certain benefits over donated bone marrow. “Patients that receive cord blood tend to tolerate partial mismatches better than when bone marrow is used. Cord blood also has a lower chance of infections and is available quickly,” says Phyllis Teesdale, acting head of the NHS Cord Blood Bank. She adds, “Many mothers are now choosing to donate their cord blood, so that it can be used to

How is cord blood donated?

help a patient desperately needing a transplant.” All donations we receive are registered on both the British Bone Marrow Registry and

Helping Hollie

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

Left and above:All samples are run through a series of tests by our laboratory staff donation held in our bank, the donation will be available for transplant within two weeks. But, in an emergency we can get it there within two days.

Hollie with her family and pony Tiggy

It was quite by chance that a GP noticed there was something drastically wrong with six-monthold baby Hollie. During a routine doctor’s appointment for mum, Jenny, the focus suddenly switched to Hollie. That same day, she was taken to hospital where tests showed she had the potentially fatal blood disease, Infantile Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. She had to endure six months of intensive chemotherapy and needed several units of blood to help her through it. Doctors decided that a cord blood transplant was the best way for Hollie to fight the disease. A match was found in New York and urgently sent to the UK. The transplant was a great success and now, two years on, Hollie is an energetic, bubbly little girl. She

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Netcord, an international cord blood registry that helps find matches for patients around the world. When a match is found between a patient and a

The NHS bank

loves being outdoors, riding her pony Tiggy and playing with friends at pre-school. Says Jenny, “Hollie had her two year check up in Sheffield recently and the results were as good as they can be. We are grateful beyond belief to staff, blood donors and cord blood donors for helping to make Hollie better.” ●

One of the main differences between the NHS Cord Blood Bank and commercial blood banks is that the donations we take are given freely and go to the patients who need them. None are held directly for the donor families’ own potential need. Commercial banks offer to store cord blood from families for their own future use only, and charge a fee to do so. We do not offer this service and we are unable to collect cord blood for families wishing to store their own cord blood. Our bank receives cord blood donations from people from all

ethnic backgrounds, which increases the chances of matches being available for patients. Currently, the hospitals we work with (Barnet General, Northwick Park, Luton and Dunstable and Watford General Hospital) are specially chosen to be in areas with a diverse ethnic population. This is important, because ethnic minorities are currently under-represented on bone marrow registries. Patients are most likely to find a match amongst donors of a similar ethnic background which is why it is important that our bank reflects the diversity of patients in Britain. Currently 45 per cent of the 10,000 cord blood donations in the bank are from ethnic minority donors, greatly increasing the chance of finding a match for patients. ● For more information on the NHS Cord Blood Bank, go to www.nhscordblood.co.uk

Donation of cord blood is a totally non-invasive procedure and presents no danger to mother or baby. A mother who has decided to donate will have her placenta delivered as normal by the midwife who then hands it to a trained member of staff. The placenta is taken to a separate room where as much of the cord blood is removed from it as possible. By doing it this way we make sure that the midwife focuses on the mother and baby, and that the donation process does not interfere with the care they receive. The cord blood team visits the mother in hospital after the birth to take a small blood sample for screening to make sure it is safe for the donation to be given to a patient. Finally, there’s a follow-up telephone call at home 12 weeks after the birth to see how mother and baby are doing. ●

If you are pregnant (or you know someone who is), live close to Barnet General, Northwick Park, Luton and Dunstable Hospital or Watford General Hospital, and would like to find out more about becoming a cord blood donor, please call 0800 783 5870.

SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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ORGAN TRANSPLANT diagnosed with pneumonia. Bed bound, thoroughly exhausted and needing constant oxygen therapy, Sanjay had hit rock bottom. Tests showed that Sanjay’s body was getting far too little oxygen, putting him in desperate need of a lung transplant. Doctors immediately added Sanjay to the transplant list and the wait for a suitable donor began.

Life-saving operation

Sanjay and his family

Saving Sanjay Desperately ill Sanjay could only beat a deadly disease if he received a lung transplant. But could a matched donor be found in time?

T

wo years ago Sanjay Joshi, could only dream of being like the other fathers at his son’s school. Housebound and constantly exhausted, Sanjay knew his last hope of having a normal life was to have a lung transplant. Without one, he would die. In 1985 Sanjay was diagnosed

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with Sarcoidosis, a disease which causes the organs in the body to inflame. In Sanjay’s case, tiny lumps of cells called granulomas were clumping together and causing irritation and scarring in both his lungs. Doctors prescribed steroids and a few lifestyle changes to manage the condition.

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

Sanjay remembers, “I was determined not to give in and battled on for as long as I could. One day a colleague saw me walk the short distance from my car into work. He said I’d gone blue, and for an Asian man to turn that colour I had to look pretty bad!”

Worsening condition Sanjay continued his career as a project manager for a hospital software and services supplier, but had to work from home. Then his condition worsened and normal life became impossible. Trips to the shops or the park with his family were just too difficult. The hobbies he

loved, such as singing, had to stop too. “I would get so angry at myself for not being able to do simple things.” In 2004 Sanjay took a turn for the worst when he was

Sanjay and his wife were all too aware that this operation could also be a life-threatening one and so began to prepare for every outcome, including a bad one. Says Sanjay, “I lost my father when I was young, and I wanted my son to be prepared for the worst.” He talked about death to his five-year-old son, Nirmal, and recorded a video for him to watch should anything happen. After just three months of waiting (the typical time is around 14 months) Sanjay received a phone call telling him that a match had been found. “I’ll never forget that feeling

Sign up to the Organ Donor Register Sanjay was lucky: a suitable donor was found in time. Transplants tend to be most successful when the donor and patient are from the same ethnic background. Nearly 1,200 Asian people in the UK are waiting for organ transplants, but there is a shortage of donors from Asian communities and some of these people may die waiting. We need more people from all ethnic backgrounds to talk to their families about their wishes for organ donation, and join the register. To become an organ donor, please contact the Organ Donor Line on 0845 60 60 400. ●

Did you know… ● More women than men have signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and there is no upper or lower age limit to join. ● All major religions support organ donation. ● More than 9,000 people are waiting for a transplant in the UK and last year more than 400 people died while waiting. ● One donor can give both kidneys, their heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, both corneas and other tissue including skin, bone and heart valves. All can help to improve or save someone else's life. ●

of not only overwhelming relief but also utter shock that they’d found a match so quickly.” Surgeons successfully carried out Sanjay’s lung transplant in January 2005 and just two years on he is unrecognisable compared to his former self. Since his transplant Sanjay has dusted off his pair of trainers and has taken part in several charity walks. In 2006, Sanjay’s wife, Mita, gave birth to a son, Dhruv, and now, as a proud father of two, Sanjay is relishing time at home with his family. Together with his eldest son, he is learning to sing and play music and he often takes his children to the park. Today, he’s just like any other dad.●

SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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MEET THE EXPERT

How one surgeon is using donated skin to save lives Baljit Dheansa is a consultant in burns and a plastic surgeon at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. He talks about the vital role donated skin plays in his work Tissues are processed and stored in our specialist facilities

Q A

Can you tell us what donated skin is? This is the upper part of skin, donated after someone’s death. The skin is thin and cryopreserved (frozen) which keeps it in a living state until a patient needs it. What is the donated skin used for? A badly burnt patient may need skin to be used as a temporary cover for the wound. It works by closing the wound, which reduces water loss and bacterial infection. For partial thickness burns and full thickness burns donor skin is better than anything, as in certain situations it can be incorporated into the patient’s own skin. What other medical conditions require skin? Any which involve massive skin loss. Apart from fires, people can lose skin through chemical burns, or accidents involving friction burns. There are also some rare diseases, such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Syndrome (TENS) which both cause rashes, skin peeling and

Q A

Q A Q A

Q A

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sores on the body. Although the cause is not always known, these diseases are often a reaction to drugs and so are more frequently seen in older people. Have you used skin recently to treat a patient? Actually about 30 minutes ago I used donor skin to treat a 73-year-old lady with 40 per cent burns. This was an extensive injury, and there wasn’t enough of her own skin to cover the wounds. Why is skin better than synthetic products? Because it is human rather than synthetic it incorporates better with the patient’s own skin and so is not detrimental to the healing process. Also, I believe that as donor skin is of the same quality as the patient’s own skin it is more resistant to infection. Is the colour of the skin important? No. Although the colour of a person’s skin comes from the epidermis (the top layers), which is what donor skin is made from, this skin is usually rejected by the

Baljit Dheansea: donor skin is better for patients

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

Q A

patient’s body after about two weeks. This means the colour of the donated skin is not important. Is there a shortage of donated skin? It is a constant challenge to meet hospital demand. It can

Q A

“Donated skin is a life-saver and it is important people know how vital it is, and to consider donating tissues after their death”

take many skin donations to treat one severely burnt patient. A typical request for donated skin may be 10,000 square centimetres for one patient, but each donor can only give around 2,500 square centimetres. The numbers of patients needing skin also fluctuates over time, making it difficult to have enough available at short notice. We also need to increase stocks of skin for disaster management purposes, so that we have enough to cope in the event of a major incident such as the London bombings. At that time a large order of skin was requested, which for a short time did deplete the national stocks of banked skin. Donated skin is a life-saver and it is important people know how vital it is, and to consider donating tissues after their death. ●

SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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ASK THE DOCTOR Our doctor, Pat Hewitt,

CROSSWORD

vCJD and blood

answers your questions about vCJD and blood.

Q

Q

30

Q

reliability of any test for blood that may become available. What does the future hold? vCJD presents major challenges to all blood services across the world.The two approaches which are being explored at present are blood screening tests, which several commercial companies are currently trying to develop, and the use of special filters to remove prions from donated blood. We will continue to keep you informed about future developments. ●

Q

Variant CJD a nd blood donati on

IMPORTANT INFORMATION Update Aug ust 2004

Q Q

THE DONOR SUMMER 2007

You can read more about vCJD and donating in our leaflet which is available at donor sessions.

Medical Fact File

We hear a lot about vCJD. What exactly is it? Creutzfeldt – Jakob Disease (CJD) is one of a group of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE). TSE diseases are caused by abnormally-structured prions proteins found in the brain. All of these diseases have a very long incubation period and cause severe and irreversible damage to the central nervous system. Variant Creutzfeldt – Jakob Disease (vCJD) is a TSE and was first identified in 1996. It’s strongly linked to exposure, probably through food, to a TSE of cattle called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). What’s the risk of getting vCJD from a blood transfusion? We issue nearly two million units of blood every single year, but so far there have been just four cases where a donor has developed vCJD and a recipient of their blood has also developed infection. In three of these cases the recipients have gone on to develop clinical vCJD (that is, shown symptoms of the disease). The fourth case had evidence of infection, but no clinical symptoms. We mustn’t forget that the benefit of receiving a necessary blood transfusion far

outweighs the possibility of contracting vCJD. Of course, our prime concern is always to protect the safety of patients through the quality of blood. However no medical procedure, including blood transfusion, can be 100 per cent safe. How is the risk being minimised? Since 1997, we have introduced several measures to minimise the risk of vCJD transmission by blood. We remove white cells from blood components, import Fresh Frozen Plasma from the United States for young patients, and use imported plasma from countries with a low prevalence of cases of BSE or vCJD to manufacture blood products such as Factor VIII for haemophiliacs. Also, we currently ask donors who have received a blood transfusion since 1980 not to donate, and we are working with the NHS to educate medical teams about alternatives to blood and how to use blood and tissues in the most appropriate way. Can I get vCJD from giving blood? No, you cannot get vCJD by giving blood. Do you test donated blood for vCJD? No, because there is currently no blood screening test available to detect vCJD. But we do have a Test Assessment Facility which will be able to check the

Complete the crossword. The letters around the perimeter, going clockwise, spell out a definition of interest to Donor readers. The definition does not start at the left-hand corner though. Send the phrase on a postcard together with your name, address and daytime phone number to Crossword Competition, The Donor, NBS, Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5BG. You could win an ‘Amazing’ NBS sports umbrella. Answers and the winner will be in the next issue. All entries must be received by 31st August 2007.

ACROSS 7 Soft feathers (4) 8 Container for ashes (3) 9 Group of allied countries (4) 10 Apples (not cookers) (6) 11 Affectedly superior (2-2-2) 12 Library user? (6) 14 Draught regulator on fire (6) 16 Isaac _____, SF author (6) 20 Detector (6) 23 Former Egyptian statesman (6) 24 Thing that exists (6) 25 Title of a lord (4) 26 Adam's partner (3) 27 Needle case (4)

DOWN 1 Scene of action (6) 2 Certainly (6) 3 Starlike source of radiation (6) 4 Not wearing clothes (6) 5 In the same place (Latin) (6) 6 Easy task (6) 13 Muhammad ___, boxer (3)

15 17 18 19 20 21 22

Dance step (3) German camp for POWs (6) Usually (6) Whirlpool (6) Using two sound channels (6) Hard seed used as spice (6) Race faster than (6)

LAST ISSUE’S SOLUTION

WE HAVE A WINNER! Congratulations toYvonne Burlinson from Sunderland, who correctly answered last issue’s crossword. The correct answer was NATIONAL BLOOD SERVICE. SUMMER 2007 THE DONOR

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Donor17p32-F1.qxp

15/6/07

12:20

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Before you put your feet up on holiday, please put your feet up and give blood.

Remember to ‘Give before you go’ If you travel to certain parts of the world you may not be able to donate for a period of time after you get back. So please check before you travel.

INFORMATION Just call the 24 hour Donor Helpline on

0845 7 711 711 and staff will answer your queries on: • • • • • • •

Whether you are able to give blood Where you can give blood locally 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 32 1

THE DONOR SUMMER SPRING 2004 2007

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 2007