Both sides of the story
A marathon donor, Kevin Petty made his first blood donation in 1980, going on to reach the 250 mark, having switched to platelets. In September 2022, Kevin went to donate but was told his red blood cell count was low.
Marathon donor, Kevin Petty made his first blood donation in 1980 and went on to reach the 250-donation mark, having switched to giving platelets. In September 2022, Kevin went to donate but was told his red blood cell count was low. Before long, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a cancer which affected his blood and bone marrow. Kevin, currently cancer-free, tells us his story.
“I had been a donor for over 40 years,” explains Kevin. “I started aged 20. My employer encouraged and allowed us to take time out to donate at the mobile blood unit.
“At some stage, I was asked if I would consider donating platelets instead, which I did gladly at Edgware Donor Centre. I became a regular there, getting to know all the staff.
“I went on to reach 250 donations just before the Covid-19 pandemic, an achievement of which I am immensely proud. It matched another source of pride for me – running the London Marathon in 2010.
(Picture: Kevin is a proud donor and marathon runner)
“Because of Covid restrictions, the presentations of certificates and medals to celebrate dedicated donors were stopped, but I was still happy to receive mine in the post. I continued to donate through the pandemic.”
I am immensely grateful to the donors who gave and effectively helped to save my life
In September 2022, Kevin attempted to donate as usual, only to be told his red blood cell count was low. It was so low, in fact, that he was advised by staff at Edgware Donor Centre to arrange to see his GP.
After receiving the results of Kevin’s blood test, his GP contacted him. He was told to go to A&E, immediately. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia – a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
“Over the next 6 months, I underwent 4 rounds of chemotherapy,” says Kevin. “Each necessitated a month in hospital, where I received fantastic care.
“During that time, I had many whole blood and platelet transfusions, which I still chuckle about. I had been so used to being ‘hooked up’ to a machine, donating blood and platelets, yet here I was on a drip, receiving rather than giving.”
(Kevin received blood and platelets during his cancer treatment)
Thankfully, Kevin has since been told he is cancer-free, although he still requires regular check-ups and knows there is a chance that his cancer could return.
“The longer I am cancer-free, the less chance there is of it returning,” he says. “My one disappointment is that I will no longer be able to donate. I know I have plenty of credit in the bank, but I am immensely grateful to the donors who gave and effectively helped to save my life.
“I did call in at the Edgware Blood Centre, too, to say hi to Anne and the staff there and to thank them. After all, they first identified I had an issue with my blood cells.”