Could you become a platelet donor?
Sophia Bird has completed her first ever day in school and rung the bell to end her blood cancer treatment.
The five-year-old received around 25 “magic bags” of blood and platelets during her treatment and her parents are supporting NHS Blood and Transplant’s appeal for new donors during Blood Cancer Awareness Month (September).
More than 20% of the blood used by hospitals goes to patients with blood cancers.
Sophia was diagnosed with Pre-B Cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in June 2017 – her early symptoms included waking in the night and wanting to be carried. She started school this September and rang the bell on Thursday 12 September 2019.
Mum Gemma, 35, a manager in the NHS from Gerrards Cross in South Buckinghamshire, said: “It was very general symptoms at first that didn’t cause much concern. We thought it might be chicken pox, which was rife in her nursery – then one morning she couldn’t walk.
“I felt broken to get the diagnosis. Her treatment began the same day. She needed an urgent blood and platelet transfusion. “
Sophia had around 15 units of blood cancer and around 13 units of platelets. Many people with cancer need blood and platelets because both the chemotherapy and the cancer itself can reduce their cell counts.
“Sophia is too young to understand fully but we have always called them the ‘magic bags’ which will make her better,” said Gemma.
“You can instantly see the change in colour. Blood donors are our heroes! Our little girl wouldn’t be here without them. We donate and around 10 family and friends have been inspired to start donating too.”
Sophia rang the bell at Wexham Park Hospital last week to mark the end of her treatment and she is due to spend her first few days in school this month.
“We are so proud of her and excited all of our future. We can’t wait to begin our next chapter - with less hospitals and freedom to do things we’ve missed out on.”
An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson said: “Blood donors help blood cancer patients every day and we delighted to see Sophia’s progress. We always need new donors to replace those people who can no longer date. If you start giving blood or platelets you will save lives - you will feel amazing.”
It is quick and easy to book an appointment to give blood. Call 0300 123 23 23 use the NHSGiveBlood app or visit www.blood.co.uk
Not everyone is able to give platelets, so we have to do a quick assessment and we take a blood sample. Call 0300 123 23 23, use the NHSGiveBlood app, or visit www.platelets.blood.co.uk
NHSBT has 23 permanent donor centres in London (Tooting, Edgware, West End), Manchester (Plymouth Grove and Norfolk House), Cambridge, Luton, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leicester, Bradford, Leeds, Newcastle, Lancaster, Liverpool, Stoke, Birmingham, Bristol, Gloucester, Oxford, Southampton, Poole and Plymouth.