Granddaughter thanks blood donors for giving grandfather priceless, “extra” year.

A granddaughter from Torfaen is thanking blood donors across Wales for giving her family valuable time with her grandfather after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2018.

Holly Davies, 19 stated grandfather David Rees received over 60 blood and four platelet donations over an 18 month period after he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a form of blood cancer of the white blood cells.

Known affectionately as ‘Dave the Lamp’ for his love of collecting blowlamps, Dave was a former deputy head of Croesyceiliog Junior School.

Holly, a student at Swansea University said: “My Bamp was given 6-12 months on July 18th 2018 – his 87th birthday. As a family we started going on day trips as often as we could to make as many memories as possible.
“One day I remember pushing him in his wheelchair up the steepest hill in Ross-on-Wye and I remember the joy on his face when we eventually made it to the top, as well as him bursting out laughing when he saw how much I was sweating!”

“Around the time of his diagnosis I also started to donate blood, I’d always known it was an important thing to do, but to see the difference that it makes to someone you love makes you want to help others in similar situations.”

Blood donations are used to help patients with various conditions from mothers and new born babies during childbirth to helping patients undergoing treatment for blood cancers.

“Being able to spend that additional time with my Bamp was a gift I will never be able to truly show my gratitude for – I just hope I can play a small part in giving more people a second chance at life or more time with their loved ones.” said Holly.

Whilst blood and platelet donations are used to help manage the symptoms following chemotherapy treatment, one of the only ways to cure blood cancer is through a bone marrow transplant.

The Welsh Blood Service hosts the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, a panel of blood donors who have volunteered between the ages of 17 and 30 to become bone marrow donors. The panel is one of hundreds across the world searched every day by doctors to find suitable lifesaving matches for patients in need.

Latest international research shows that four in ten patients will not receive the lifesaving transplant they need, which is why Registries across the world are continuing their efforts to increase the number of volunteers joining the panel to improve the chance of finding a suitable donor.

Director of the Welsh Blood Service, Alan Prosser said: “Only 30 per cent of patients needing a life changing bone marrow donation can find a suitable match within the family, which means it’s actually more common to rely on the kindness of strangers. A bone marrow/stem cell transplantation typically follows a chemotherapy treatment that has been unsuccessful so in many cases it really can be a final chance of a patient making a complete recovery. This is why it’s so important to ensure we have people on the register ready to donate.

“Every time someone donates, you’re not only helping the patient, but you’re also helping their loved ones too like Holly and her family. David is just one example of the difference donors are making every day.

“Donors aged 17-30 provide the best possible likelihood of a bone marrow donation being successful which is why we’re encouraging younger people to book a donation session and asking about joining the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry.”

The Welsh Blood Service receives around 100,000 donations each year to ensure it can supply its 19 hospitals with the blood products they need for patient treatments.

Holly continued: “Nothing will be able to bring my grandfather back, but we were able to make many fun-filled memories thanks to the donations he received allowing him to get out of the hospital and really live his life.”

Book to donate blood today visit: wbs.wales/Davethelamp or call: 0800 252 266.

If you’re aged between 17-30, ask about joining the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry when you give blood.