Loughborough teenager supports blood donors appeal
Jonny Brackstone owes his life to dozens of blood donors whose names he does not know.
The Loughborough teenager needed 30 pints of blood during treatment for aplastic leukaemia.
Now, he is backing a campaign to get more young people to become regular blood donors, as the number of 17 to 24-year-olds signing up has fallen in recent years.
Jonny was 16 when he was diagnosed with aplastic leukaemia three years ago.
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"I had been fit and well and playing rugby but about a month before I was diagnosed I had just begun to feel worse," he said. "The condition is rare and not actually a cancer but a bone marrow disorder.
"I had a low blood and platelet count."
Platelets are cells in the blood that help it clot. The only cure was to have bone marrow transplant, and, fortunately for Jonny, his younger sister proved a match.
As part of his treatment, Jonny, who is studying for his A-levels at Loughborough Grammar School, had to have blood and platelet transfusions – 30 pints of blood and 20 units of platelets in total.
"Each transfusion improved my quality of life," said Johnny.
He had a successful bone marrow transplant in August 2010.
"I was off school for a year but now I am completely recovered and back playing sport.
"I had always planned to become a blood donor before this, but now I am supporting the campaign because I know what a difference they can make to someone's life."
A regional campaign week to recruit more young blood donors was due to get underway at Loughborough College today.
It is part of NHS Blood and Transplant's Step Up, Sign Up, Share campaign.
Holly Mason, NHS blood and transplant's lead donor relations manager for the area, said: "We are really grateful to the students and staff at Loughborough College.
"We welcome all eligible new donors but especially need young people to come forward – they are the lifesavers of the future. We would also like donors to become ambassadors for us and encourage others to give it a go."
More than 1,000 new registrations nationally are needed each day to replace donors who can no longer give blood.
Hospitals across England need 7,000 units of blood every day and each unit can potentially save or improve the lives of up to three people.
Ms Mason said: "Young people are especially important as they make up about 40 per cent of new donors.
"The number of 17 to 24-year-olds registering has fallen in recent years."
There is an NHS blood donation Facebook page and Twitter feed, @GiveBloodNHS, to help spread the word among young people.
The campaign week also has it own Twitter hashtag, #signupgiveblood
For more information, call 0300 123 23 23, or go to: