Rallying call to the county’s youngsters to donate blood

Oxford Mail: Rob Cooke, left,  has gone back to donating blood because son Matt has started. Picture: OX67749 Cliff Hyde Buy this photo Rob Cooke, left, has gone back to donating blood because son Matt has started. Picture: OX67749 Cliff Hyde

YOUNG people in Oxfordshire are being called on to donate blood to boost supplies across the county.

In the last two years there were 3,094 donors aged between 17 and 24 in Oxfordshire, counting for 14.5 per cent of the county’s 21,267 donors.

Just 755 of those were under the age of 19.

One of those young donors is 17-year-old Katie McLachlan from Wootton, near Abingdon.

She said: “Ever since I was little I’ve had various operations and had to go to hospital quite a few times.

“I had five operations on my cleft lip. I’ve never needed blood in those operations, but I thought that by donating blood I was giving something back to say thank you.”

The Calthorpe School student said that squeamishness was not an excuse, adding: “It’s worth a lot more than a bit of angst about a metal needle.”

Fellow donor Matt Cooke, 17, from Kirtlington, agreed. He said: “It can save a life and it’s easy. It’s a bit weird if you’re looking at it, but it’s just like a pin prick in your arm.”

By donating, the Marlborough C of E School student has done more good than just giving his own blood, he inspired his father, Rob, to begin donating again.

Mr Cooke, 53, said: “I donated in about 2000 but stopped when we moved to Oxfordshire.

“The problem is when you move you get out of the habit and just forget about it. When Matt signed up I thought I should do it too.”

The video producer said: “I did wonder if I would be too old to give blood again and if it was going to be a hassle, but it was very simple – no big deal.”

Across England and North Wales, people donate around 1.8 million units of blood each year, which comes to 846,000 litres or 186,094 gallons.

Some blood types are more needed than others, like O Rh negative – the universal blood group – and B Rh negative.

While there is not currenly a shortage, supplies are dropping lower than they should.

Mr Cooke, said: “My father, Peter, had a rare blood type and in the 50s he was called out of the cinema to donate. Can you imagine that?”

Jon Latham, assistant director for donor services at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We’re issuing a ‘call up’ for more to come forward because we know blood donation falls off the to-do list during hot weather, summer holidays and big public events like the World Cup.”

Spokeswoman for NHS Blood and Transplant, Felicity Hay said: “Young donors are crucial to ensuring there is a robust donor base for the years to come and to protect the future supply of blood.”

You can give blood if you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66.

  • Visit blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

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