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Welsh Blood Service

Welsh ban on UK plasma donations to make medicines lifted.

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As part of a four-nations agreement, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced the ending of a ban on using UK plasma to manufacture medicines.

The lifting of the ban follows a review by the Commission on Human Medicine (CHM) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

It was introduced in the UK in 1999 in response to the variant Creutzfeld–Jakob (vCJD) epidemic, believed to be associated with the consumption of meat products infected with BSE, commonly known as “mad cow disease”.

Since the introduction of the ban, plasma-derived medicinal products have had to be imported, with the main source at present being the USA.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The need to import plasma into the UK has meant NHS Wales has had to prioritise supply of medicines to patients with the highest clinical need.

“The pandemic is placing further pressures on this supply due to the increased need for blood plasma in the development of new Covid-19 medicines coupled with the falling numbers of blood plasma donations.

“Following multiple reviews of the evidence, we have been advised that plasma sourced in the UK is safe for the manufacture of these medicines and as such, I along with the other health ministers across the UK have lifted the ban to potentially save their lives and help people to manage their conditions.”

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Director of the Welsh Blood Service, Alan Prosser, said: “The Welsh Blood Service welcomes the decision to safely end the ban on using UK plasma to manufacture medicines.

“The whole blood donations we receive already help provide clinical plasma for specific treatments, such as supporting patients with burn injuries.

“There is further work to do, but our service will now explore with Welsh Government how we can best maximise this opportunity for the population of Wales.”


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Welsh Blood Service

Younger generation urged to ‘help fight against blood cancer’

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The first person to ever donate bone marrow in Wales is calling on more 17 to 30-year-olds to help fight against blood cancer ahead of World Cancer Day (Friday 4 February).

Each year three in ten blood cancer patients will not find the potentially life-saving bone marrow match they need, which is why Julie Penketh and the Welsh Blood Service are encouraging more people to join the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

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Since donating her bone marrow three decades ago, Julie has continued to urge others to join by donating blood or by returning a home-delivered, needle-free swab-kit, which can be ordered in minutes online.

Receiving a swab kit through the post (Image: Welsh Blood Service)

Julie commented: “If you’re fit, healthy, and aged between 17 and 30, you must consider joining the Registry. The new swab-kit service only takes a few minutes, you can do it in the privacy of your home at a time that suits you, and you could go on to save someone’s life.

“It’s a really proud feeling thinking I may have helped someone in need, and I hope more people will come forward knowing what a difference they can make. Overall, my donation experience was a hugely positive one and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again.

“I have children and grandchildren now. Touch wood none of them will need a transplant like this, but you never know. I would urge anyone eligible to do something amazing today and sign up to the panel.”

Blood cancers stop bone marrow from working correctly and for these patients, the best hope of recovery is to receive a bone marrow transplant. Registries across the globe are searched every day by healthcare professionals looking for suitable bone marrow matches for their blood cancer patients.

Dr Keith Wilson, a Consultant Haematologist at University Hospital of Wales, explains: “Blood cancer patients worldwide face a daily, and increasingly urgent, search for a suitable bone marrow match. The requirements for matching a patient with a bone marrow donor are very specific, which is why we need to continue increasing the number of people on the Registry. This is the best way to give more blood cancer patients the chance to overcome the disease.”

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Currently, over 50,000 patients across the globe are hoping to find a suitable bone marrow match from an unrelated donor.

Christopher Harvey, Head of the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, said: “The chances of being chosen as the perfect match for a patient anywhere in the world is extremely rare, but the opportunity to find a life-saving match increases as more donors sign up.

“It’s an awe-inspiring concept. You could be the one and only person in the world who could be the match – and that’s why we need more people to sign up to the Welsh Bone Marrow Registry and increase a patient’s chance of survival.”

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Neath Port Talbot

Swansea and NPT residents urged to give someone the best gift this Christmas by giving blood

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A mother who needed in-the-womb blood transfusions during her pregnancy and a man who depends on regular, lifesaving blood donations are encouraging communities across Wales to give ‘the best gift’ this Christmas by donating blood.

The Welsh Blood Service is preparing to face Winter pressures on its services and is hoping their new Christmas campaign, ‘the best gift’, will raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and the lifesaving difference it makes.

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Last December over 1,000 donations of blood and blood products were needed across Swansea to provide care to patients at Morriston,  Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospital. These donations play a vital role by supporting a range of treatments from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and new-born babies during childbirth.

Blood donations were needed during both pregnancies for mother of two, Shelley Parry (pictured top). After her own life was saved during her first pregnancy, Shelley received several more blood transfusions directly into her womb to keep her youngest daughter alive.

Shelley explains: “Receiving blood is truly the best gift we have ever received. We’re forever indebted as a family to those who have taken the time to donate. Without the generosity of blood donors, quite simply, we wouldn’t be parents. Thanks to their selfless act, we can look forward to Christmas together as a family.

“It only takes one hour of your time to donate, if you can, please consider donating.”

Also supporting the campaign is blood recipient Giggs Kanias. Since birth, Giggs has received over 1,000 blood transfusions as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder. Thanks to blood donors, Giggs is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family.

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Giggs Kanias is supporting the campaign having received over 1,000 blood transfusions since birth as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder.

Giggs said: “I am so thankful to the incredible people who give blood. When I’m in hospital, I stare at the bags of blood being transfused into me and always wonder, who is the person that has helped me?

“I know the difference these people have made to my life and I’m so grateful to each and every one of them. Without their generosity, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be a dad, or have had the opportunity to see my daughter grow up. Receiving blood is truly the best gift anyone could ever receive.”

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “For patients like Giggs, receiving blood will be the best gift they receive this Christmas. It truly is the best gift you can give.

“Blood products have a short shelf life and is needed by hospitals 365 days a year, including Christmas day, to help support patients in need, which is why we can’t stop collecting.”

The Welsh Blood Service provides lifesaving blood products to 20 hospitals across Wales and four Wales Air Ambulance aircraft for use in emergencies.

Alan continues: “It is critical the service prepares. We need to build up blood stocks ahead of a potentially challenging winter, where seasonal illnesses and Covid-19 may exacerbate the usual winter pressures faced by the NHS.

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“We are reaching out to communities across Wales to ask them to make a lifesaving blood donation and give ‘the best gift’ this festive season.”

Do something amazing this Christmas. Give someone the best gift. Give blood. If you are aged 17 or over, book to give blood at: http://www.wbs.wales/Xmas21 or call 0800 252 266 today.

Appointments are available in Swansea on 16 December and January 10 at the Swansea.com Stadium, 17 December in Killay, 20, 21 and 30 December in the Swansea Marriott Hotel, 7 January in Pontlliw Village Hall and 17, 18, 27 and 31 January in the Swansea Village Hotel.

Appointments are available in NPT on 13 and 14 December and January 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 26 at the Theatre Royal Port Talbot and 22 December at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport.

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Swansea

Son’s pledge to raise awareness of blood donations after losing his father to cancer

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A young blood donor from Swansea is on a mission to inspire other young people to follow in his footsteps. 

After losing his father to stomach cancer in 2014, Shaun Morgans became one of the youngest donors in the UK to make over 25 blood donations. Every donation can help up to three patients meaning his commitment to donating could have saved up to 75 people in need.

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Now 24 years old, Shaun began donating blood at the age of 17 and is urging others to follow in his footsteps.

Shaun said: “I saw first-hand how important blood donations were for my father, which is why I became a blood donor. Since then, I’ve been determined to do everything I can to support others in similar circumstances.

“Only three per cent of those who can donate do, and that’s why it’s vital to me as a young donor to raise awareness. Not many people realise that you can donate once you turn 17. 

“I’m proud to have taken my younger brother to his first blood donation too, alongside my mum, we’ll continue to donate as a family.”

Avid runner Shaun’s desire to promote blood donation went beyond the donation chair recently too as he discovered Welsh Blood Service’s ‘Giving Runs in Your Blood’ initiative.

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Shaun was one of three amateur athletes who secured a ‘Welsh Blood Service’ spot at the recent Newport 10k. The runners each pledged to help raise awareness about the importance of blood donations and hopefully inspire new donors to sign up too.

The ‘Giving Runs in Your Blood’ initiative was launched with the support of Run4Wales and Welsh Athletics, the Welsh Blood Service’s latest community partners. The three organisations have joined together to encourage amateur and professional runners across Wales to make lifesaving blood donations.

These donations play a vital role in saving lives each day by supporting a range of treatments, from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and new-born babies during childbirth. The Welsh Blood Service needs to collect 350 blood donations a day to supply the 20 hospitals across the country.

Giving blood is considered an essential service and donation sessions have continued across Wales throughout the pandemic with additional safety measures introduced to meet Welsh Government guidance.

Shaun added: “Thanks to donors, my family were able to spend extra time with my father. If you’re fit and healthy, please book an appointment to give blood. You really can make a huge difference for so many people.”

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Appointments are available on 6, 16 December and 10 January at the Swansea.com Stadium, 17 December in St Hilary’s Church Hall Killay, 20, 21, 30 December at the Swansea Marriott Hotel, 7 January at Pontlliw Village Hall and 17, 18, 27 and 31 January at the Swansea Village Hotel.

To find out more about becoming a blood donor, please visit www.wbs.wales/running  or call 0800 252 266.

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