Give the gift of life this Christmas

14-monthold Chloe Gray with her mother Francesca. The tot is the inspiration behind the Sunderland Echo Chloe's Call Up campaign.

14-monthold Chloe Gray with her mother Francesca. The tot is the inspiration behind the Sunderland Echo Chloe's Call Up campaign.

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PEOPLE across Wearside are being urged to give the gift of life this Christmas.

Blood donors are urgently needed in the run-up to the festive period and the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) service is asking people to think of those patients who rely on vital transfusions.

The drive is being backed by the parents of brave tot Chloe Gray, who suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, a blood abnormality that causes a low red blood cell count.

The 17-month-old, the face of the Echo’s Chloe’s Call-up Campaign, needs a life-saving blood transplant once a month.

Blood donations can fall by as much as 20 per cent during the festive season, which can affect patients receiving life-saving cancer treatments, surgery, and emergency care.

Darren Bowen, NHSBT’s lead donor relations manager for the North, said: “The arctic conditions across the North East last winter presented severe challenges for the blood supply, yet blood donors made heroic efforts to reach donation sessions.

“We are now calling on our regular donors to show warm hearts by helping to save lives and making a date to donate this Christmas.”

Chloe’s mum Francesca, of Plains Farms, knows all too well how important it is for people to give blood.

The 20-year-old said: “It’s a lot harder in the winter because people don’t want to go out. It does get a lot worse for Chloe in the winter months because her levels drop and she can be more prone to getting bugs that are going round.

“It doesn’t take that long to go out and give blood. There are a lot of places in Sunderland where you can go, so I really hope people take the time.

“Chloe would love to be able to just get up and go out whenever she wants to but she can’t do that without the blood.

“It’s really important to become a bone marrow donor as well. All you have to do is take a swab and send it away and it could be months before you get called up or it could never even happen, but at least you’d be there is someone needed you.

“People should remember that there are people out there that need them.”

Chloe will eventually need a bone marrow transplant to keep her alive, but the battler’s body cannot cope with the chemotherapy needed at the moment.

Until she grows strong enough, which could be in about 10 years, she will have to have the blood transfusions.

Chloe’s Call-up Campaign aims to increase the number of people across the region donating blood on a regular basis.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho

BLOOD donation sessions are being held at Fulwell Methodist Church in Dovedale Road, on Wednesday, December 7, between 2.30pm and 3.45pm and 4.30pm and 7pm.

Another two sessions will be held on Thursday, December 8, at Central Point in Brickgarth, Easington Lane, between 2.30pm and 3.45pm and 4.30pm and 7pm.

Anyone aged between 17 and 65, and weighing more than 7 stone 12lb and in general good health can give blood.

There is no upper age limit for people who have donated blood in the last two years.

For more information or to book an appointment, call 0300 123 2323 or go to www.blood.co.uk.