Amazing response to Derby Telegraph's plea for people to join blood donors as 753 sign up
THE Derby Telegraph's life-saving target of finding 500 new blood donors has been smashed in only two months.
An incredible 753 people across the county have responded to our Save a Life campaign by volunteering to give blood for the first time.
And they have the potential to save more than 2,000 lives – as one donation can help save up to three people.
The new donors have all registered since we launched our appeal on October 31 and 220 others have become life-savers by learning first-aid.
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Derby Telegraph editor Neil White said he would like to see even more people become involved.
He said: "Now we want to see if all of our readers can become life-savers in 2013."
Among the first-time blood donors was Sam Ince, whose daughter, Darcey, has had 14 life-saving transfusions.
Sam said: "Darcey would not be here today without blood donors."
Little Darcey's cancer battle inspired her mum to join our campaign
Since October 31, the Derby Telegraph has been urging its readers to give blood or learn first aid through its Save a Life campaign. Caroline Jones spoke to one of the county’s 753 new blood donors about why she decided to come forward.
SAM Ince will never forget the look of pain on daughter Darcey's face every time her little girl has a blood transfusion.
It was those images which came to Sam's mind as she lay back in a chair and donated blood for the very first time.
Five-year-old Darcey has endured six blood and eight platelet transfusions in a battle against cancer.
Although they cause her daughter pain, Sam also knew the donations of blood were saving Darcey's life.
"Any discomfort I had giving blood was nothing compared to what Darcey has been through," said Sam, 41.
"I was a little bit nervous about becoming a donor but this was overridden by the fact that I wanted to do it – I wanted to give back.
"Darcey would not be here today without blood donors or platelet donors and I knew it was my turn to do the same for someone else."
Sam, of St Edmund's Close, Allestree, is one of 753 people in Derbyshire who has signed up to became a first-time donor since the launch of the Derby Telegraph's Save a Life campaign.
We originally set out, with NHS Blood and Transplant, to find 500 new donors in the county in the run-up to Christmas – and ended up smashing our target in two months.
Another part of our campaign was to turn our readers into life-savers by getting them to learn first-aid skills.
Teaming up with St John Ambulance, we have been offering discounts on the charity's training courses – meaning readers could learn to save lives from just £10.
And more than 200 people have already taken us up on this offer.
Sam – who gave blood for the first time at a donor session at Pride Park Stadium – said: "Before the Derby Telegraph's campaign, I had not really considered giving blood before.
"Darcey's condition has inspired us to do some charity drives and raise money for the organisations which supported her but donating blood is just not something we thought about.
"But I know how important it was for Darcey, which is why I realised it was an important thing for me to do."
Darcey is now in remission after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – cancer of the white blood cells – when aged two.
Her treatment has seen her undergo sessions of chemotherapy and 19 lumbar punctures – to take fluid from inside the lower back – as well as the transfusions. As a result, she has spent most of the past three years in hospital.
Last year, charity Cancer Research UK gave Darcey a trophy as part of its Little Star awards – which recognise the courage of children who have cancer. She also enjoyed the trip of a lifetime in December when she, Sam and her twin brother Harrison were taken to Lapland by charity When You Wish Upon a Star to meet Father Christmas.
Reaching this phase of Darcey's recovery was an important step for both Sam and her husband, Sean, 45 – which was why he also decided to give blood at the same time.
Sam also invited two of her work colleagues from Ashgate Primary School, in Ashbourne Road, Derby, to give blood. Emily Ragan and Dajit Sahota have registered to become donors and hope to give blood later this month.
Sean – who was already a blood donor but had not given for about six years – said: "This campaign has not only prompted Sam to give blood for the first time but actually got me back into doing it.
"I'd given at least 10 times but then, when the kids came along and everything happened with Darcey, I fell out of the habit.
"Donating blood is something which has always been done in my family though. My father had given 44 times, so it was natural I'd take up the opportunity."
Sam said she would definitely give blood again. She added: "It was a bit painful at first but only because my vein was a bit small.
"The blood came through slowly and, most importantly, we got there in the end. I would have been more disappointed if it hadn't worked.
"At the end, I asked if they could donate my blood to the children's E38 oncology ward at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre , which was where Darcey was treated.
"They told me it didn't work like that, as it becomes part of the general stock. But, that's ok, because my blood can now mean there's more available for wards like that."
As a result of the new 753 blood donors coming forward, an additional 2,259 lives can be saved or improved because one donation can be used to help three people.
This is because, when blood is donated, it is usually split into its components – plasma, platelets and blood cells.
Holly Mason, lead donor relations manager for marketing for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "We are delighted with the response from the readers of the Derby Telegraph to our campaign.
"We hope that all those who registered take the opportunity to donate blood for the first time and this is the start of many years to come of donating and saving lives.
"And, if you have not yet registered to become a blood, what better new year's resolution could you make than to sign up and save a life?"
Meanwhile, St John Ambulance's regional director, Chris Thornton, thanked the Telegraph for encouraging people to take part in first-aid sessions. Mr Thornton said: "Since the campaign's launch in November, St John Ambulance has trained 220 readers in first aid, which is an incredible result.
"We're thankful to the Derby Telegraph for working with us to raise awareness of this issue, so we can equip more people with these life-saving skills.
"We'll be continuing to run courses into the New Year and hope that we can increase that figure, with the ultimate aim of reducing the number of needless deaths due to a lack of first-aid knowledge."