How blood donors saved our lives: Norfolk people tell their stories
08:03 04 December 2012
(C) James Bass 2012
This week the Evening News and the EDP have launched a campaign to recruit 750 new blood donors during December.
Blood stocks fall during the winter months when people are busy preparing for Christmas and enjoying the bank holidays.
Just 4pc of the eligible population are active blood donors and to meet the never ending demand for blood more than 7,000 donations a day are needed, every day of the year.
Derek Carr, NHS Blood and Transplant’s donor relations manager, is calling on people to pledge to become a donor.
He said: “Over the past 10 years we have seen a 20pc drop in young donors. As we move to the future we need new donors to come forward to replace those who can no longer donate.”
Our newspapers are running a series of features about blood donors, those who have received blood and what the process involves. Lucy Wright spoke to three people whose lives were saved by blood donors.
• A man who was hit by a bus when he was a toddler is calling on people to spare their time and give blood.
Matt Boreham fell over as he ran across the road when he was 22 months old and he was hit by a bus. He spent hours trapped underneath the vehicle as doctors worked to release him.
“They had to figure out how they were going to get me out because the bus was positioned on me in a way that it stopped me from bleeding to death,” Mr Boreham said.
He was released from underneath the bus and taken to hospital where he underwent a major operation and a blood transfusion. “The aftermath is still with me now and I am 44. I still need operations because of the muscle loss,” he said.
Mr Boreham’s injuries caused him to have a limp until he was 16. But when he was nine, his mother bought a sailing boat and Mr Boreham soon became passionate about the sport, and washed cars until he could afford to buy his own boat when he was 11. He soon learnt that sailing was a sport in which he could compete on equal terms, regardless of his injuries.
Now the self-employed builder owns 14 boats and in 2007 he fulfilled one of his greatest dreams to sail across the Atlantic.
Mr Boreham, who lives in Ingworth, near Aylsham, with his wife, Alison, and children Georgina, 15, and AJ, 15, said: “People should give blood because you never know when you might need it.”
• Sue Little needed a colossal 127 units of donated blood following the complicated delivery of her daughter.
When she was 32 weeks pregnant, Mrs Little, right, had a routine check-up and doctors discovered she had placenta previa, where the placenta was right in front of the baby. Doctors refused to let her leave through fear it would rupture and kept her at the James Paget Hospital.
The condition, which occurs in about one in every 200 pregnancies, causes a higher risk of bleeding.
She stayed in hospital for four weeks, missing her son’s first day at school.
“My husband brought in pictures of the boys for me to see. They didn’t understand it at the time, they were too young.”
Four weeks later, Tamsin Kama-Jane, who is now 15, was born perfectly healthy weighing 6lbs 4oz.
But when surgeons tried to remove the placenta, they discovered it had fused to Mrs Little’s bladder.
She was admitted to the intensive therapy unit and the 24 hours that followed were critical but thanks to the skills of the medical staff and the donated blood, her life was saved.
“They had to ask my husband for permission to give me an emergency hysterectomy. There was no other way to stop the bleeding,” she remembers. “Tamsin was one of a twin. We lost the other baby and we named him Thomas because we felt he was a boy. The names Tamsin and Thomas both mean twin.”
Surgeons cut away all of her bladder except for a piece the size of a 10p coin.
Fifteen years later, surgeons have managed to rebuild her bladder from her small bowel.
Mrs Little, who has two sons Simon, 23, and Niall Durrant, 19, from a previous relationship and lives in Rye Lands in Hemsby, with her husband Russell, 40, added: “I was very ill and I can’t encourage people enough to donate blood.
“I needed 127 units. They had to go as far as Essex to get the blood and 127 people saved my life. Without them my husband wouldn’t have a wife and my children wouldn’t have their mum.”
• A grandfather who was given just three months to live when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer has praised blood donors for helping to save his life.
Former stockbroker David Cooke was diagnosed with mantel cell lymphoma, an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in 2001.
The father-of-two, who lives with his wife, Lesley, in Eaton Rise, Norwich, said: “It’s quite rare: only about four people in Norfolk have it.
“I was told that I had three months to live if I refused treatment, but if I chose to have treatment it might not work.
“There’s a risk attached to it but I said it was worth the risk.”
He had a stem cell transplant in December 2001 and needed more than a dozen units of blood and platelets.
Doctors told Mr Cooke to lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
He started cycling to raise money for the Norfolk Lymphoma Group and in 10 years he has managed to raise more than £100,000.
“The stem cell transplant worked and 12 years later I am sitting here happy,” he said.
“Stem cell transplants are a miracle treatment.
“It is the reason I am here today.”
“I haven’t had the all-clear. I will have lymphoma until I die.”
The grandfather-of-five started donating blood in 1963 and clocked up 70 donations before he became ill.
“I started donating after my father had a major operation at Addenbrooke’s,” he said. “Blood donors saved my life. Lymphoma is the most common cancer in young people aged between 20 and 35 so we need to make sure more young people sign up to give blood.
“I want to get the message out there that we need people to carry on donating.
“To all blood donors, a big thank you from my family and I.
“I didn’t have any grandchildren when I was diagnosed but I have been given this extra time to enjoy my life.
“I spend as much time as I can with them.”
For more information about the lymphoma group see www.norfolklymphoma.org.uk