Newlywed with terminal cancer urges people to keep Christmas blood donation appointments

A new bride was able to spend her first - and probably last - Christmas with her new husband thanks to blood donors.

29 December 2018

Emily Edwards has terminal cancer and months to live but celebrated her birthday just before Christmas, and then Christmas itself, with her new husband Sam, thanks to the generosity of strangers.

Emily poses with her engagement ring alongside Sam in the snow in BudapestEmily, 28, from Eastbourne, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2012 and she married in April 2018 after being told her condition was terminal.

She is now using some of her remaining time to support the NHS appeal for people to keep their blood donation appointments over the quiet Christmas and New Year period.

Emily said: “I was able to spend a wonderful Christmas with my family and husband thanks to the people who donated their blood, platelets and bone marrow.

“Without these people I wouldn't be alive today. It honestly is the greatest gift. It’s so important for people to keep giving blood at this time of year.”

Emily has received around 60 units of blood and 35-40 units of platelets, which have enabled her to live for as long as she has, including celebrating her 28th birthday on December 19th and spending Christmas with her new husband Sam Edwards.

The couple married in April 2018 after Sam, 29, a builder, proposed in February whilst on a trip to Budapest.

The couple, who had been together for four years, originally planned to marry in November but brought the date forward after they received the news in the April that there was no longer any chance of a cure and they were unsure how much time Emily had left.

“We basically organised the wedding in three days, with lots of help from our family and friends who went above and beyond to give us a magical day, we will never forget the effort they put in for us,” said Emily.

Emily, a dental nurse, was diagnosed after suffering a variety of symptoms while she was at university, including finding it difficult to breathe.Emily gives the thumbs up from her hospital bed

Acute myeloid leukaemia is an aggressive cancer. The patient’s bone marrow produces too many immature white blood cells, which then crowd out the bone marrow and prevent the creation of red blood cells and platelets.

“The blood transfusions make such difference it’s crazy. One day you feel exhausted and then after the transfusion you are just a different person, you have much more energy,” said Emily.

“You want to say thank you to all these people so badly. I don’t think donors really understand how much it means. I would have died a long time ago without blood and platelets.”

She added: “My husband Sam has been so good, he has been amazing. He has never left my side. He used to sleep in the hospital all the time. My mum also has been a huge support from the beginning taking time off work and sitting with me all day every day for months at a time while I had to stay in hospital."

Regular blood donors are being urged to keep their appointments over the festive period because blood stocks drop as people are busy with shopping and celebrations.

Last year, around one in 10 people simply failed to turn up for their appointment.

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We need our loyal donors to keep their appointments to make sure hospitals have the blood they need for patients like Emily.

“Each donation can save up to three lives.”

Existing donors are being prioritised to try and ensure stocks stay healthy.

First-time donors are being asked to make an appointment for the new year, when they will be able to find appointments.

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Notes to editors 

  • NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We provide the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK. We also provide donated tissues, stem cells and cord blood. We are an essential part of the NHS, saving and improving lives through public donation.
  • It is quick and easy to book an appointment to give blood. Call 0300 123 23 23 or visit 
  • NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.4 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England.
  • There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. O negative (the universal blood group) and B negative are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls. So, we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can.
  • The overall demand for blood is falling by 3-4% per year due to improvements in clinical practice and our work with hospitals to ensure blood is used appropriately for patients.
  • We need more than 200,000 new blood donors each year to replace those who stop donating and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future
  • We urgently need 40,000 more black donors as they are more likely to have the blood type needed to treat the increasing number of patients suffering from sickle cell disease.



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