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 commitment to saving lives - whether you made the pledge this year, or have been donating for a little while.

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'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.

 We also hear from colleagues in research and development, with the recently published and rather unexpected results of PlaNet-2, explaining how we can help premature babies with low platelet counts. Dr Nick Watkins also outlines some of the exciting projects our scientists are currently leading.

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. 

If you are a brand new donor who can’t find an appointment straightaway, please don’t worry: just make an appointment for the New Year. We’re currently prioritising existing donors with known blood types to help build stocks for Christmas. However, we do need donations throughout the year, and would really appreciate your help in early 2019.

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.