A toddler from Burgess Hill whose life was saved by a blood transfusion is now helping to save more lives by spearheading a new NHS campaign.
Two-year-old Sebastian Stevens has just been given the all clear after receiving blood and platelets during treatment for bladder cancer.
His mum Natasha, 33, said: “Without transfusions, Seb would be extremely ill and may not have been able to recover from his chemo. Instead, when he has new blood, he runs around happy.”
She spoke out to highlight a campaign - dubbed Missing Type - by NHS Blood and Transplant to urge more people in West Sussex to sign up to become blood donors.
The number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time in England decreased by 24.4 per cent last year compared to 2005.
A spokesperson for the service said: “Last year, 15,750 people in West Sussex gave blood at least once. New blood donors are crucial for ensuring we have the right mix of blood groups to meet patient need in the years to come. There is a particular need for more young blood donors and more black and Asian donors.”
Natasha, who lives with her partner in Burgess Hill and works in a secure children’s home, added: “Giving blood is an amazing thing that the majority of people can do and it really does save lives. Please support Missing Type and register as a new donor at blood.co.uk.”
Mike Stredder, director of blood donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, the service that collects, tests and processes blood for hospitals across England, said: “Blood donation is an amazing gift and transfusions save lives in West Sussex every day.
“Whether it is patients receiving treatment for cancer, blood disorders, after accidents or during surgery, or new mums who lost blood in childbirth, blood is an absolutely essential part of modern healthcare.
“Thanks to the generosity of our current donors, hospitals have the blood needed to treat patients and there is not a crisis in blood stocks. Despite overall blood use in hospitals declining, we need more young donors to safeguard blood donation for future generations.
“And it’s vital the blood donor community reflects the diversity of the population because blood types vary across communities and patients need well-matched blood.”
People can register as new donors at www.blood.co.uk. People with blood groups O negative, and A negative are particularly needed, along with people from black and South Asian communities.