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My son’s life was saved thanks to gift of blood
THE mother of a baby whose life was saved by a blood transfusion on the day he was born is urging more people to sign up as donors.
It was touch-and-go for little Maxwell Haines when he was born with Rhesus disease – a dangerous condition caused when antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood destroy her baby’s blood cells.
He survived thanks to a full blood transfusion within hours of his birth and a second ‘top-up’ transfusion when he reached five weeks.
But his mother Veronica knows that it was only blood being available that gave Maxwell the gift of life and is backing a new NHS Blood and Transplant drive for people to donate.
Mrs Haines, age 31, received a blood transfusion herself five years ago after giving birth to her daughter Lydia.
She had been giving blood regularly long before either she or Maxwell needed it, but said their experiences have only made her more aware how important it is that people donate.
“Without the blood, Maxwell would simply not be here today. It saved his life,” she said. “When he was born he was yellow and jaundiced and without the transfusion he would not have survived.
“I have always known giving blood was important but especially now we have experienced it ourselves. As a mum, having that blood available to help Maxwell means the world to me.”
Maxwell is now eight-months old and doing well but Mrs Haines, from Redditch, is concerned that not enough people realise how important it is to give blood – and just how easy the process is.
Last week she spent a day in Worcester’s Angel Place talking to shoppers and passers-by about the importance of giving blood as part of a ‘Summer Superhero Road Show’ organised by NHS Blood and Transplant.
“When Maxwell needed his transfusion the blood had to come from Bristol because there wasn’t any more locally and that is a worry for me,” she said. “I want to say a big thank you to everyone who does donate but there needs to be more. “A lot of people think about donating blood and say ‘next time’. But it needs to be ‘this time’.”
The blood that Maxwell so badly needed was transported from Bristol by the medical courier charity Severn Freewheelers. Mrs Haines and her husband Steve are fund-raising for the charity to say thank you. They are planning to make the 80-mile journey from Bristol to Redditch on their bikes on September 21 and have already raised almost £1,900 for the cause.
Other blood donors were also championing the cause during the roadshow in Angel Place.
They included Christine Lewis, age 46, and her 18-year-old son Nathan, from Worcester. Mrs Lewis said: “I have been donating blood for many years and as soon as Nathan was old enough he started to join me.”
Mr Lewis added: “It’s something that’s very easy to do and we’re here supporting this campaign because we want to try and encourage more people to do it.”
NHS Blood and Transplant is running roadshows all over the country to encourage people to donate and ensure it has enough blood to meet demand over the summer months, when stocks historically run low.
Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 35 days and platelets just seven days, so any lulls while people are on holiday or outside enjoying the sunshine can place big pressures on supplies.
John Latham, assistant director of marketing and donor contact, said: “We want to thank all our donors, ordinary people who do an extraordinary thing by giving blood and helping save the lives of people they don’t know. They really are true superheroes. We hope those who haven’t donated before or for some time will be inspired by existing donors to become the superheroes of the future.”