A message from Sally Johnson, interim chief executive

Hello, and welcome to the Winter 2018 edition of The Donor.

I would like to start by saying a huge thank you for your continued, unwavering commitment to saving lives. As a blood donor, your life-saving gifts are unique and cannot be underestimated. Yours is an exceptional act of kindness - giving something anonymously for the benefit of others. We hope you know how much this means.

In this edition, the award-winning journalist and author, Caitlin Moran, recounts her return to donating after many years away. She describes the unexpectedly emotional experience with humour and honesty, and explains how poignant the act of giving is as: “love for someone you've never met”.

And looking from the other side of donation, three mothers would like to offer you their heartfelt thanks for the donations you have given. The donations that they or their babies have received mean that they can enjoy the festive season together as they should.

We also hear from colleagues in research and development, with Dr Nick Watkins outlining some of the exciting projects that our scientists our leading, including using gene editing techniques to modify blood cells grown in the lab, and the development of new cellular therapies that can replace defective cells and even re-target the body's defence systems to attack and destroy cancer cells.

We have also recently had the results of PlaNet-2 (Platelets for Neonatal Transfusion study 2) published. The study investigated platelet transfusions for premature, sick babies, and the results were rather unexpected. The legacy of the study will allow us to better care for babies with low platelet counts, and will have an impact across the country and overseas.

We'd also like to use this edition of the newsletter to introduce you to eight-year-old Miai and her pal Ama, who explain how they have made it their mission to get people talking about blood donation. Miai has sickle cell disease and relies on Ro type blood for the treatment of her condition.

As we head into winter I would like to take this opportunity to ask those who are able to donate to book an appointment. We typically see a dip in blood stocks around this time of year, particularly over the Christmas and New Year period when precious time is taken up with the festivities. Please do your best to keep your appointment. We know that sometimes this is impossible but last minute cancellations usually means the appointment gets wasted.

And finally, I am delighted to announce that Betsy Bassis has been appointed as the new Chief Executive for NHS Blood and Transplant. Betsy has been working as the Chief Operating Officer at Defra for the past four years, and she will be starting with us early in 2019. We are looking forward to welcoming her into the organisation.

Thank you so much for your support.

I wish you health and happiness for 2019.