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Fitness & Health

14th Jun 2019

Man who has received over 100 pints of blood thanks NHS for saving his life

Giving blood is something most young people have never done. I met two men who know the importance of donating - but for very different reasons

Alex Roberts

81 per cent of young people have never donated blood, but it needn’t be that way

For Blood Donation Week, I visited one of the UK’s leading donation centres to meet two men who both know the importance of giving blood – but for very different reasons.

This is their story.

James: The Recipient

34-year-old James has had three liver transplants in his lifetime, receiving over 100 units of blood in the process. He was born with biliary atresia, a liver disease which has resulted in him undergoing three transplants.

James cannot give blood, but instead hopes his story can motivate others to donate for those in need.

“You think to yourself, ‘how amazing is it that blood is ready for you?'”

To him, blood donation is quite literally a lifesaver.

“When you get more grown up you understand that giving blood and maybe thinking about your organs when you die as well, what it can do for other people, I think it’s just a growing up thing really.”

Despite seeming scary, an encouraging 86 per cent of blood donors admit the process of giving blood is much easier than originally expected.

Jordan: The Donor

We brought James to meet Jordan, a 23-year-old civil engineer who has already donated 20 times. His first donation came six years ago, but he hasn’t looked back since.

“I first gave blood when I was 17. I took my little sister with me, she was about eight at the time.

“She was saying ‘you sure you’re doing the right thing?’ but she didn’t know what to expect. She thought ‘this isn’t normal, you’re losing blood!'”

While 35 per cent of young people are scared of giving blood, Jordan is adamant the process is not to be feared.

“The self-motivation I’ve had is the fact that you’re saving lives. Both mentally and physically, you feel good. It’s like an oil change in a car.

“The important thing with young people is, the sooner you donate blood the more donations you can make over the course of your lifetime.”

It shouldn’t take up too much of your day, either.

Jordan said, “It takes half an hour every three or four months – it isn’t a long time at all.”

The NHS needs you

Half of all blood donors are aged 45 and over, so the NHS Blood and Transplant service are urging young people to donate to combat the ageing donor population.

Find your nearest blood donation centre here.

Interestingly (and perhaps surprisingly), more men are scared at the sight of blood than women. However, men’s blood is particularly useful to make plasma and platelets used to stop bleeding after injury or surgery.

Black donors with the rare subtype Ro are also in high demand. This blood type is more prevalent among those of African heritage and is used to treat the 15,000 people in the UK who suffer from sickle cell disease. Often, people needing Ro blood are treated with O negative because there is a shortage of Ro blood available.

600 new donors are needed every single day to keep the country pumping. Without your help, people like James would not lead the same quality of life. The NHS needs you more than ever to step up, allay your fears and prove that giving blood is not scary.

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