‘Inspirational’ blood donors are praised

From left: Dedicated donors Don Ratcliffe, Stuart Brown and Ian Knox are pictured with Claire Smith and her daughter Farah. Farah received 33 blood and platelet transfusions during her treatment for a brain tumour.
From left: Dedicated donors Don Ratcliffe, Stuart Brown and Ian Knox are pictured with Claire Smith and her daughter Farah. Farah received 33 blood and platelet transfusions during her treatment for a brain tumour.

Three dedicated blood donors from north Northumberland, including one who has made more than 300 donations, have been recognised for their life-saving efforts.

Don Ratcliffe, Stuart Brown and Rev Canon Ian Knox received awards and certificates from NHS Blood and Transplant during a plush ceremony at Lumley Castle last week.

Ian, 72, from Longhoughton, was honoured with the Special Health Authority’s top award for making 250 blood and platelet donations, although he has actually made 303 over a 54-year period.

Stuart, a builder, aged 58, from Thropton, and Don, aged 60, an analytical scientist from Alnwick, received their awards and certificates for reaching their 100th blood-donation milestone.

The trio were delighted to receive their accolades and spoke about how important it is to give blood.

Ian gave his first blood donation as an 18-year-old. He said: “I started donating blood with work colleagues and have been a regular donor ever since.

“A friend of mine needed blood after suffering a severe nosebleed and without it, he may not have survived. I would encourage everyone who can do it to donate blood.”

Ian has an AB+ blood type – which is so rare that only 3.4 per cent of the population has it – and his blood was discovered to be so pure, that he was able to give frequent donations, with newborn babies and troops in Afghanistan among the beneficiaries.

He added: “I am an ordained minister and I believe that God loves everybody. By giving blood, I am playing my part.

“And believe it or not, I actually feel better after donating blood.”

Stuart and Don have also been giving blood over many years.

Stuart said: “I first started donating after I saw a local donation session advertised around 40 years ago. Giving blood is so important; it could save your life or that of a loved one.”

Don added: “My father encouraged me to make my first blood donation about 42 years ago. It’s easy to do and doesn’t take too long.”

The importance of giving blood was demonstrated at the ceremony, as the guest speaker was Claire Smith, 30, from Chester-le-Street, who is mum to Farah, aged three.

Farah was 21 months old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2015.

The tumour was removed, but she has required further treatment and surgery and has received more than 30 blood and platelet transfusions, including a full body transfusion during her initial surgery to remove the tumour.

Amanda Eccles, senior marketing coordinator at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “These dedicated blood donors are very special to us and the ceremony gave us the opportunity to say thank you.

“Farah’s story reminds us how important their donations have been. Donors save lives and improve the lives of countless others. These donors are an inspiration to us all.”

In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh more than seven stone 12lbs, and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before), you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.