19/11/2018 | Press releases

Colchester patient Henry and his life-saving blood transfusions

Young Colchester patient Henry Alderson visits Colchester Hospital’s children’s unit every four weeks for a life-saving transfusion. He has a rare condition, Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, which means he can’t make his own red blood cells and needs transfusions every four weeks to keep him alive.

Henry is the face of a national Christmas campaign to urge blood donors to keep their appointments, as NHS Blood and Transplant warns missed appointments could hit blood stocks over the festive period.

Henry, from Essex, who turns three this week, has had around 40 transfusions since first receiving blood just minutes after he was born. His mum Zoe describes the transfusions as ‘supercharging’ and says they give her little boy a normal life.

Zoe said:

Henry is a cheeky chappie, always on the go, but in the days before his transfusion he turns as pale as a ghost and his energy levels plummet.

He is now so used to transfusions that he gets excited about going to hospital and happily watches the needle go in. Once the blood works its magic he is full of energy once more.

Henry’s best chance at a long and healthy life is a bone marrow transplant but for now, we rely on blood donors to keep him alive. His transfusions in November and December will mean he can enjoy Christmas. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who gives blood.

Around one in four appointments to give blood were cancelled by donors at too short notice in the week before Christmas last year. One in 10 people simply failed to turn up for their appointment altogether.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs people to keep their appointments to avoid an even more serious pre-Christmas slump. This year it fears that the forecast bad weather could keep even more donors away.

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging donors to keep their appointment to give blood in November and December. Donors who need to cancel are being asked to give at least three days’ notice so the slot can be given to someone else.

Permanent donor centres in cities and towns have the best appointment availability. Donors who are unable to find an appointment at their local community venue are being urged to keep checking, as cancellations mean slots can become available at short notice.

A serious drop in donations could affect the supply of blood to the tens of thousands of people in England who will need transfusions over the festive period as treatment for a blood condition or cancer, or due to surgery, childbirth or an accident.

Donors with all blood groups are being asked to keep their lifesaving appointment in the run up to and over Christmas, but vulnerable groups like O negative, B negative and A negative are particularly important.

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

Please keep your appointment to give blood. If you are having difficulties making your appointment, please make sure you contact us. We need to collect blood throughout November and December to build up stocks in time for Christmas.

Demand for lifesaving blood doesn’t stop for Christmas. But stock levels can drop dramatically if too many donor appointments go missed or unfilled.

We know that donations slump and missed appointments rise in the middle of December and the cold weather forecast could make the situation worse.

We need our loyal donors more than ever at this time of year, to make sure hospitals have the blood that seriously ill children and adults will need over Christmas and the new year. Each donation can save up to three lives.

Existing blood donors are being prioritised for appointments in the run up to and over Christmas so that NHS Blood and Transplant can collect the right amount of blood that patients need at this critical time of year. New donors who have registered but not yet donated are being asked to make an appointment for the new year.

It is quick and easy to make, view and change appointments by calling 0300 123 23 23 or online at www.blood.co.uk

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