Race is on to find more young blood donors

Abigail Lloyd from Gosport gives blood at Thorngate Halls in Gosport with help from her grandmother Carol Jones and donor carer Jo Hampson.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (123947-3)
Abigail Lloyd from Gosport gives blood at Thorngate Halls in Gosport with help from her grandmother Carol Jones and donor carer Jo Hampson.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123947-3)
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Seeing her mother survive cancer spurred on this teenager to start donating blood.

Now, Abigail Lloyd, 18, is hoping other people will be inspired by her story and register to donate.

Yesterday Abigail went to Thorngate Hall, in Bury Road, Gosport, to donate blood for the first time.

The sessions are organised by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which we have joined up with to launch The News’ Give Blood This Christmas campaign.

We want to get 200 new people to sign up and donate blood.

Abigail, of Halyard Close, Gosport, decided to donate blood after her mum Marie, 40, was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.

Marie has undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is on the road to recovery.

She says: ‘Two years ago my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was devastating.

‘It makes me feel like people should live their lives and take all the opportunities they can get.

‘You also have to make the most of what comes your way.

‘And when I turned 18 I got a letter from the blood service to see if I wanted to register.

‘I read it and decided it is something I want to do.’

Abigail, who studies photography, English and religious studies at St Vincent College, in Mill Lane, Gosport, chose to register online.

She says: I registered online and it didn’t take long at all.

‘You put in basic details like your name, age and address.

‘Then you get a letter in the post, which tells you where you can donate blood and you bring the letter with you.

‘When I got here I was really nervous, and kept needing to go to the toilet.

‘But all the staff here were brilliant.

‘They talked me through each stage and explained what was happening.

‘By the end of it I was relaxed and not as nervous as when I walked in.

‘I was worried the needle might hurt, but the donor carer talked me through it and didn’t notice it.’

Now that Abigail has given blood once and found it straightforward, she is looking forward to donating again.

She is also urging other young people to come forward and become donors.

She says: ‘If you can then you should donate, as it’s a great thing to do and you’re helping other people.’

Abigail went to the session with her grandmother Carole Jones.

She is also a donor and has been giving blood for the past 25 years.

She says: ‘I’m really proud of Abigail. It’s great to see younger people registering.

‘I started donating when I heard about it at work.

‘I wish someone had come into college and told us about it though, as I would have started donating a lot sooner.’

As reported, although the NHS Blood and Transplant service currently collects the 7,000 units of blood required each day, it is worried this might not be the case in the future as the number of young donors continue to drop.

Around 40 per cent of all donors in England and Wales fall into the 17 to 24-year-old bracket, but the number of new donors in that age category has been falling steadily by 20 per cent over the past 10 years.

And this year there has been a 50 per cent drop in 17 and 18-year-olds registering to donate compared to last year.

Diana Goodyear is a session manager for the blood service.

She says: ‘This is one of our busier centres and we’re always grateful for the people of Gosport who come along.

‘But we need to make sure we have enough donors to stock blood levels in the future.

‘This is why I would urge people to come forward.

‘This blood helps people in hospitals. And without people like Abigail coming forward, then these hospitals would be out of blood.

‘So if you can, please donate.’

It usually takes 10 minutes to donate the 470ml of blood needed to make a difference to up to three people’s lives.

People can also donate platelets, which are found in ‘whole blood’ and helps blood to clot in the body.

How to register

THERE are some criteria to meet in order to become a blood donor.

Anyone aged between 17 and 65, weighing more than 50kg (7st 12lb) and in general good health could potentially start saving lives by becoming a blood donor.

There is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the past two years.

People can register in a number of ways:

n They can attend any of the sessions listed on the right hand side of this page and speak to a member of staff.

n People can visit blood.co.uk and register online.

n Or to get more information, potential donors can ring the 24-hour helpline number: 0300 1232323.

The News is working with NHS Blood and Transplant to get 200 new blood donors on to the register.

If you are a new donor then The News would like to hear from you.

Once you have registered, then let health reporter Priya Mistry know.

People are asked to give their name, age, address, contact number and the reason for registering to donate blood.

At the end of the campaign, a roll of honour will be printed in the paper.

New donors can email priya.mistry@thenews.co.uk.

They can call (023) 9262 2130.

Or write to: Give Blood This Christmas, The News, The News Centre, London Road, Hilsea, Portsmouth, PO2 9SX.

Preparing yourself to donate

FOR any nervous new donor, here is advice on what to do to prepare yourself for a donation.

The advice has been given by NHS Blood and Transplant, which organisations donor sessions.

It gives the following information:

Distractions help reduce nervousness so bring an MP3 player, book or a friend along with you to the donation session.

On the day of donation and the evening before, drink plenty of fluids.

Avoid alcohol as this will considerably affect hydration and delay recovery.

Regular meals before donating are necessary for maintaining blood sugars and ward off light-headedness.

A good night’s sleep the evening before is beneficial to wellbeing and recovery.

Tight clothing around the arms restricts blood flow and can cause bruises, so wear something loose and comfortable.

Eligibility criteria to donate may vary so know your medical, body piercing and travel history to avoid delays. The top reasons people are deferred from sessions are they feel unwell, taking a course of antibiotics, dental work, cardiovascular conditions, infection within the past two weeks, being on a hospital waiting list or currently undergoing medical tests, travel, and piercings/tattoos.

Where to give blood

Monday, December 10, Holiday Inn, Cartwright Drive, Titchfield: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Tuesday, December 11, St Swithin’s Church, Waverley Road, Southsea: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Wednesday, December 12, Fratton Park, The Victory Lounge, Fratton Way, Portsmouth, from 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Friday, December 14, Porchester Community Centre, Westlands Grove, Porchester: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Monday, December 17, Holiday Inn, Cartwright Drive, Titchfield: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Wednesday, December 19, Waltham Chase Village Hall, Winchester Road, Waltham Chase: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Thursday, December 20, Petersfield Festival Hall, Heath Road, Petersfield: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Friday, December 21, All Saints Church, Hambledon Road, Denmead: 1.30pm to 3.25pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Monday, December 24, Sarisbury Green Community Centre, The Green, Sarisbury Green: 10am to 12.25pm and 1.45pm to 4.15pm.