Blood donors helped save King’s Lynn mum’s life and beat cancer

Sharon Beatwell. Picture: Ian Burt Sharon Beatwell. Picture: Ian Burt

Thursday, November 15, 2012
9:33 AM

A King’s Lynn mum last night praised the dedication of blood donors almost ten years after blood she received helped her beat leukaemia.

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From left: Adrian Parker, Valerie Clews, Sharon Beatwell, Chris Woolley and David Spooner. Picture: Ian BurtFrom left: Adrian Parker, Valerie Clews, Sharon Beatwell, Chris Woolley and David Spooner. Picture: Ian Burt

Sharon Beatwell, 40, wouldn’t be alive today had it not been for the blood she received during her chemotherapy treatment which started at Christmas in 2003.

The 40-year-old is now spearheading a campaign which was launched in Lynn yesterday which aims to recruit thousands of new blood donors across our region in 100 days.

She said: “It’s easy to take it for granted until you need it, but without the medical treatment and blood donors I would not be here today.”

The 40-year-old also defied all odds to give birth to daughter Ruby a year after her treatment finished – something she said wouldn’t have been possible without blood donors keeping her alive during her battle with cancer.

The auxiliary nurse at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital added: “Part of my job is to get blood for our patients and you just always expect there to be blood there but if the number of donors continues to fall, that might not be the case forever.”

A number of dedicated blood donors and blood recipients were also on hand in the town centre yesterday to share their experiences and help recruit as part of a national campaign to attract 100,000 new donors.

The focus of the campaign is on young donors, aged between 17 and 24, after a sharp decline in this age range signing up to be blood donors.

It also comes after it was revealed Norfolk’s life-saving blood stocks are under increased pressure from a decline in blood donors.

King’s Lynn resident Stewart South, 64, and Chris Woolley, from Heacham, dressed up as presents to help launch the campaign in Norfolk - signifying them giving the gift that costs nothing.

Mr Smith first gave blood in 1967 and has donated 85 times. He said: “It just seems a positive thing to do. It’s something that saves lives and it isn’t a big deal.

“You just turn up, lie down and a few minutes later you are enjoying tea and biscuits.”

He added: “It’s much easier and quicker to give blood now than ever before with the appointment system.”

Mrs Woolley, 63, has donated blood 74 times and is hoping to reach the impressive milestone of 75 in January,

She said: “I started giving blood in 1967 when I was 18 because it was something I had always wanted to do. My brother-in-law also donated regularly which helped encourage me to do it.

“I then wanted to keep up with my brother-in-law, who has had to stop donating now but gave blood more than 100 times, and I want to continue for as long as I can.”

She added: “Giving blood is very important when you think how many lives you can save. It’s not difficult – It is quick and easy and doesn’t take a lot of time.”

Recently released figures from NHS Blood and Transplant revealed a 7.4pc decrease in the Norfolk’s blood donors since 2009/10, and a 5.9pc decrease in the number of blood collections made over the same period.

Meanwhile, the figures have also painted a bleak picture for Norfolk, Suffolk and Waveney with more than 3,000 fewer people giving blood compared to three years ago.

The revelations sparked fresh calls from both the NHS and health minister Norman Lamb for people to roll up their sleeves and give what they can in a bid to replenish blood stocks across East Anglia.

Jon Latham, NHSBT spokesperson, said: “The number of young people donating has been falling for the last decade but this year there’s been a sharp drop and we now need 100,000 donors nationally to sign up in the next 100 days to start addressing the shortfall.

“We welcome all eligible new donors, but a failure to boost the number of young donors now will put a strain on the blood service in the years to come.”

Last year 2.1m donations were made by 1.6m donors across the country, which accounts for 4pc of the population.

It is believed that 7,000 units of blood are needed every day to meet the demand in hospitals across the country.

Each unit saves or improves the lives of up to three people and over a lifetime, some blood donors help more than 500 people through their donations.

To become a donor you must be aged between 17-65, weighing at least 50 kg (7 stone 12lbs) and in general good health.

If you have donated before, you can start again up to your 70th birthday and there is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years.

To find out if you are eligible to become a blood donor and make a date to donate, visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

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