Blood donors saved my life.
A CAMPAIGN was being launched today to encourage people to give blood in Liverpool.
Every day more than 150 units of donated blood are used in hospitals in Liverpool alone to help treat patients in need of vital transfusions.
The selfless efforts of volunteer blood donors make sure patients undergoing surgery or receiving regular treatment for blood diseases receive the transfusions they so desperately need.
National Blood Week, taking place from 13-19 June, is run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).
The service wants people to "Make a date to donate" at a Merseyside blood donor session.
Mike Wood, from St Helens, knows just how vital donated blood is.
Four years ago a blood test carried out during a routine health check revealed he was suffering from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.
Within a fortnight the 57-year-old dad-of-two from Newton-le-Willows saw a haematologist consultant at St Helens hospital and was given regular appointments to track the rise in his white cell count. Chemotherapy followed and as time went on his red cell count started to drop and he needed regular blood transfusions to help him through his treatment.
He told the ECHO: "To say I was grateful to all the people involved would be the understatement of the year.
"I am eternally grateful to everyone involved in my care - donors, nurses, doctors, scientists, technicians and even the catering and domestic staff who all helped in some way during this period.
"People often don't realise how important blood can be until they, or someone they know, needs it.
"Receiving blood truly has saved my life and to know I get it specially matched just for me makes me ever so grateful to those people who come forward to donate."
Because Mr Wood received so many transfusions - essentially having a large amount of other people's blood in his veins - his own body started to identify the transfused blood as "foreign" which can cause serious health issues.
This meant his blood and the donated blood was sent to specialist labs in Speke to check it matched perfectly.
An extra night shift was introduced at the labs to test all the donated blood to make sure it was right for him.
Hours later he received the vital transfusions he needed thanks to donors and staff.
Blood donation is one of the simplest ways to save or improve someone's life and it is essential new blood donors are recruited regularly to replace the 15% of donors who leave the register each year.
A regular, safe supply of donated blood is vitally important for thousands of people across Merseyside. And blood products aren't just for road traffic accidents - they are given to newborn babies, people with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, sickle cell disease and other blood disorders or even used in general surgery.
First time donors should be aged between 17-65, weigh at least 50 kg (7 stone 12lbs) and be in general good health.
If you've donated before you can start again up to your 70th birthday and there is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years.
To find out more about becoming a blood donor, to book an appointment at a local session or to find out more about local events across Merseyside during National Blood Week call the Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk
BE A LIFESAVER: Giving blood can make such a difference as patient Mike Wood, inset left, found out