Saffron Walden: Twin platelet donor recognised for helping to save lives

13:04 12 February 2014

From left, Geoffrey White Malcolm White and Donor Carer Kate Walton.

From left, Geoffrey White Malcolm White and Donor Carer Kate Walton.

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Twin donors, who were driven to give platelets after the death of one of their sons, have been recognised for giving more than 200 donations each.

Malcolm and Geoffrey White, of Saffron Walden, started donating whole blood back in 1969 but were prompted to start donating platelets in 2007 when Malcolm’s son, Tom, died from cancer.

During his nine-month battle against cancer, Tom received more than 25 units of red blood cells and platelets before he died at the age of 23.

The brothers now regularly donate platelets at the Cambridge Blood Donor Centre, in Long Road, one of 24 centres in the country which collects the blood component of platelets via a specialist donation process called apheresis.

Malcolm, the former Saffron Walden town clerk, has now made 227 donations and Geoffrey has made 203 donations.

Malcolm, who has raised more than £190,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust with his wife Kate, said: “I would encourage anybody to give platelets that are absolutely essential for cancer patients in particular. You never know when it will be your turn or your friend’s turn. It is a 30 mile round-trip but it is very worthwhile.”

Platelets are the clotting factors in the blood which help to stem blood loss and are often given to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or those with certain types of anaemia. Apheresis donations involve a special cell separating machine which takes the donated blood and splits it into red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma by spinning in a centrifuge. The platelets are collected and the rest of the blood is returned back to the donor’s body – this allows the donor to safely donate more frequently than whole blood donors.

Each platelet donation can potentially save the lives of up to three adults or 12 children and platelets only have a shelf life of seven days so it’s vital that stocks are constantly replenished by dedicated donors.

Derek Carr, lead donor relations manager for East Anglia at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The time and dedication shown by platelet donors is amazing and what Malcolm and Geoffrey have achieved so far is brilliant. Many patients owe their lives to platelet donations and an achievement like this cannot be under estimated.

“There is always a need for new platelet donors to come forward and we hope donors like Malcolm and Geoffrey will be an example for others to follow in their footsteps and ultimately save and improve the lives of many more patients in need.”

You could become a platelet donor if you are between 17 and 65. If you are aged 66 to 70 you need to have given blood before, and if you are over 70 then you need to have given a full blood donation in the last two years.

To find out more about platelet donation and book an appointment, visit blood.co.uk/platelets or contact 0300 123 23.

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