Mum of Harrogate boy who needs regular transfusions to stay alive urges donors to give blood over Christmas

The mum of a little Harrogate boy who needs a lifesaving blood transfusion just days before Christmas is backing an NHS call for donors to make and keep an appointment to give blood over the festive period.

Monday, 21st December 2020, 9:17 am
Updated Monday, 21st December 2020, 9:22 am
Supporting blood donor appeal - Harrogate mum Vicky with her five-year-old son Archie Flintoft.

Five-year-old Archie Flintoft has relied on donors to keep him alive since he was a baby.

He has Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, a rare condition which means he can’t make his own red blood cells. He needs blood every three weeks and will receive his 59th transfusion a week before Christmas Day.

His mum Vicky, 38, said: “Archie is a typical five-year-old. He’s a massive fan of superheroes and a real livewire. To look at him you’d never know there was anything wrong.

“Archie knows his bones don’t make blood so he needs blood from other people. Before a transfusion he is unsettled and bad tempered, but once he has that good blood in him the happy, lively little boy who loves cuddles is back. Blood changes everything for Archie – It is literally his lifeline.”

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging donors to make an appointment to donate over the Christmas and new year period if they don’t already have one, and to keep their appointment if they have already made one, to help build blood stocks ahead of a potentially challenging winter period.

The only two days of the year that blood donations are not collected is Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, with appointments available on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day

Demand for lifesaving blood doesn’t stop for Christmas. Many children and adults will still need transfusions over the festive period as treatment for a blood condition or cancer, or due to surgery, childbirth or an accident.

Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

Vicky, who lives in Harrogate with husband Dean, little Archie and their seven-year-old daughter Holly, added: “Before Archie I thought blood was only needed in emergencies. Now I know there are many people like him with life-threatening conditions who depend on blood all year round, even at Christmas.

“I cannot put my gratitude to blood donors into words. Without them, my son wouldn’t have left hospital as a baby. Donors give him life – they are superheroes in my eyes. I would especially thank those who make the extra effort to donate over Christmas to help people like Archie.”

This winter, NHS Blood and Transplant needs donors who are fit and healthy to help it keep blood stocks strong to support hospitals through a second wave of covid-19 as well as seasonal pressures.

At this time of year however, colds, flu and severe weather can make it hard for donors to attend, while this winter could be particularly challenging with the extra impact of covid-19 infections.

An extra 1,500 units of blood is currently needed every week and extra appointments have been added across the country to help meet this need as well as the challenge of social distancing on session where there is less opportunity to collect as much blood. Permanent donor centres in major towns and cities generally have the best appointment availability.

As well as existing donors, NHS Blood and Transplant is calling on people who have registered but not yet donated to make their first appointment to help the NHS through this critical period.

Giving blood is exempt from covid-19 travel restrictions, even during a full lockdown.

Jon Latham, Assistant Director of Donor Relationship Services at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We know that giving blood can slip off the to-do lists over Christmas and new year. But we need our loyal donors more than ever right now so we can keep hospitals supplied with lifesaving blood.

“The demand for blood has reached near pre-pandemic levels, yet we have extra winter challenges this year with the added pressure of covid-19. In the summer months there was less demand from hospitals for blood, but this winter could be particularly challenging for us because that is no longer the case, and we now have donors spaced out and fewer beds in use as well as the usual winter pressures like colds, flu and bad weather.

“We need anyone who is fit and healthy and who can donate to please book and make an appointment. Our sessions are open as usual with extra safety measures in place and extra appointments have been added to help us meet these winter demands.”

Extra safety measures are in place across all blood donation sessions. Donors are triaged with a temperature check on arrival. Hand gels and hand washing facilities are available, donors are spaced apart and staff are doing extra cleaning. Staff and donors wear face coverings.

Donors are reminded to follow all relevant Government transport guidance when making a journey to give blood.

You can book appointments and check the latest guidance on Covid-19 and giving blood by calling 0300 123 23 23, downloading the NHS Give Blood app, or visiting the website blood.co.uk.

If you are fit and healthy please make an appointment to donate. If you need to cancel please give at least three days’ notice so the place can be offered to another donor.

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