BY TOBY PORTER
Two women whose lives have been saved by blood transfusions are appealing for donors to come forward.
The duo have made a special plea for men to come forward, because they have more iron in their bodies and their antibody levels do not vary, unlike women.
Both those factors make men’s blood a better bet for saving women like Natalie Stevens from Tooting and Lauren Cooley from Lambeth.
Blood donors kept Natalie going until she could receive a lifesaving stem cell transplant from her brother.
Natalie was diagnosed with the extremely rare disease aplastic anaemia after finding she was getting out of breath and bruising easily. Her bone marrow, which creates blood cells, was failing.
The disease can have many causes. In Natalie’s case, it may have been sparked by a bout of shingles in September 2018. Natalie went on to have 23 blood transfusions and 28 platelet transfusions.
She received the stem cell transplant from brother, Ryan, at St George’s Hospital in Tooting in February 2019, and is currently doing well.
Natalie had never been able to donate herself because she is a type 1 diabetic.
“I have been encouraging people to give blood,” said Natalie, who had been training to be a mental health nurse. “I meet a lot of people who say ‘I’ve been meaning to do that, or I would love to do it, but I haven’t got around to it’.
“For some people, my experience has given them that push to do it and they were surprised at how easy it was.
“I don’t think you can have a blood transfusion without looking at the bag and wondering who gave it and feeling grateful that people do take the time to do it.
“I hope people are inspired by my story to register as donors during National Blood Week.” Lauren, 31 has received approximately 40 blood transfusions over the past two years.
She suffered from a mystery illness which began in March 2017 which caused severe internal bleeds.
Lauren felt extremely breathless and faint and was rushed to hospital where she received an emergency three units of O negative blood which saved her life.
This kind of incident happened 10 times over the following two years, resulting in hospital stays of up to three weeks at a time.
“I was getting progressively worse and had no standard of life during this time. I am so grateful for people who donated their blood, which each time I was hospitalised saved my life and helped me recover.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for blood donors so I want to give something back and raise awareness in whatever way possible.
I hope sharing my story will inspire people to start saving lives by registering as a blood donor.”
Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We need more new male donors in Wandsworth and Merton to address the decline in men becoming blood donors. Blood donation saves lives.
“We can assure men that out there that blood donation is an amazing experience that you can feel proud of.
Giving blood at Tooting donor centre is quick and easy – we aim to have you in and out within an hour but the actual donation itself should only take around 10 minutes. We need men to start their own blood story.”
NHS Blood and Transplant is this National Blood Week (June 10 to 16) urgently calling for more men to start donating at Tooting donor centre.
New figures show that only 40 per cent of active blood donors at the centre are male. Nationally, the number of male donors has also been dropping worryingly quickly.
NHSBT needs 2,500 new male donors at the Tooting donor centre over the next year. Factors affecting male donor recruitment are thought to include the popularity of social media appeals, which are more popular with women.
Men are more likely to view their first donation as a personal achievement, whereas women are more likely to be motivated by altruism.
Become a blood donor. Register today and book an appointment www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.