Bedford blood donor Jill shares 75th birthday with NHS
Jill Johnston from Bedford, who is a regular blood donor at Cambridge donor centre, is celebrating her 75th birthday on the same day as the NHS this week.
Jill, a retired accountant, said: “I was born on the 5th of July in 1948 – the same day as the NHS. We have joked over the years that my dad told the midwife to hold on until after midnight on the 4th!”
At eight-years-old, Jill was hospitalised for bronchial pneumonia and required an oxygen tent: “My parents were very glad to have a National Health Service. I’m not sure if it is true but I was told the newspaper used to print a list of patients on the ‘danger list’ and my name was on it for a short while.
“My blood donor journey started a little later in life when I was in my 30’s and I remember my first donation at the old scout hut in St Neots, Cambridge where I donated for many years.”
At one appointment, Jill was asked if she would consider switching to platelet donation. She gave a blood sample and moved to donate platelets at Cambridge donor centre where she continues to donate to this day. After eight years, she made the switch back to whole blood donations.
Looking back on her donation journey, Jill said: “I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, most notably the move from beds to chairs and the more thorough cleansing of the arm. The staff have remained excellent and I have always found giving blood an easy thing to do, with the drinks and biscuits being the best bit too!”
Between her whole blood and platelet donations over the years, Jill has accumulated over 220 donation credits. Her selfless generosity will have helped to improve and save hundreds of lives across the country.
Jill said: “I plan to continue to donate for as long as I am able to.”
How you can help
NHS England have called for people to register as blood and organ donors as two of the ways to support the NHS in its 75th year.
Each blood donation can save or improve up to three lives.
Blood is needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery, and O negative blood is mostly used for emergency care.