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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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Neath Port Talbot

Police name 18 year-old who died in Swansea Valley crash

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The 18 year-old woman who died in a road traffic collision in the early hours of Sunday morning has been named as Chantelle Thomas from Godre’r Graig.

Chantelle died when the car she was travelling in left the road while travelling along the A4067 from Swansea towards Godre’r Graig.

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Her family has paid tribute to her, saying: “As a family we are devastated to lose our princess Chantelle, she was a much-loved daughter, sister and granddaughter and loved by everyone she met.

“Sleep tight my princess.”

South Wales Police are continuing to appeal for witnesses to the collision which occurred shortly before 1.30am on Sunday January 23rd.

The single vehicle collision involved a white Citroen C1 which left the road while travelling along the A4067 from Swansea towards Godre’r Graig.

Another 18 year-old woman remains at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff where she is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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Officers are continuing to appeal to anyone who may have witnessed or has dash-cam footage of the incident or the manner in which the white Citroen C1 was being driven prior to the collision to contact South Wales Police.

(Lead image: Family photo / South Wales Police)

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Neath Port Talbot

Wales’ first Milk Bank for newborn babies opens in Swansea Bay

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A milk bank has been set up for the first time in Wales to help ill or premature babies and, over time, mothers facing feeding difficulties.

The new milk bank hub, based in Singleton Hospital, Swansea, is supplying human milk to babies being cared for in hospital, with much of the milk being donated by Welsh mothers.

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Donor milk can help ill or premature babies in supporting their feeding, growth and development and in preventing complications, while also supporting mothers who need time to establish their own milk supply.

Until now, hospitals in Wales had received donor milk directly from milk banks in England.

As the milk hub begins operating to its full capacity, babies across south Wales will be able to receive milk from the hub in Singleton Hospital, as it will supply donor milk to the other health boards in south Wales.

Having a milk hub based locally will also allow more women from Wales to donate their milk to help support mothers and babies who need it.

Taylor Pearson was the first mother to put herself forward as a donor after giving birth to her daughter at the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, in January 2021.

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The 29-year-old, from Cardiff, decided to donate her excess breast milk to help other mothers who may be experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding.

“After my daughter was born last year I found that I had an excessive supply of breastmilk which was more than she needed,” she said.

“I asked staff at the hospital if they had any milk bank facilities after reading about it online and I was told there wasn’t anything in Wales.

“I contacted Hearts Milk Bank, just north of London, who told me that a hub would be opening in Wales. Closer to the time they contacted me and asked if I still wanted to donate and I said yes.

“I didn’t want to waste my breast milk. I know quite a few people who have had babies in NICU (neonatal intensive care units) and I know it can be quite difficult to get your supply to breastfeed, especially when you’re separated from your baby.

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“If people really want to breastfeed but are struggling then this can help.”

Each donor goes through a screening process, which includes questionnaires and blood tests to rule out any infections.

They then provide at least two litres of milk over 10 weeks, which is then pasteurised, before being frozen and stored ready to be given to babies.

Taylor added: “It’s giving families who have their heart set on breastmilk more options to feed their baby when not having access to milk is the only reason they can’t do so.”

Helen James, matron for neonatal services, said: “Exclusive breast milk feeding can improve long-term development outcomes and donor milk is often used as a bridging gap while lactation is being established.

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“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Swansea Bay and a privilege to host this hub to support neonatal units across Wales.”

Blood Bikes Wales, a charity that provides a free courier service to the NHS, had previously been transporting donor milk from England to Singleton Hospital for babies in need.

The charity will continue to deliver the supplies to Swansea and to each of the health board regions in Wales to make it easier for mothers and babies to receive the donor milk.

Dr Sujoy Banerjee, consultant neonatologist and clinical director for children and young people services, said: “The first human milk bank hub in Wales will offer an invaluable resource for the care of premature and sick newborn babies, preventing complications, and improving outcomes. 

“It will provide equity and easy access of human milk for clinical services in south Wales and will make it easier for lactating mothers to donate their excess milk for the benefit of many babies. 

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“The project is a great example of a social, healthcare and research collaboration and will raise awareness and promote breastfeeding in our communities. 

“We are very proud to be given the opportunity to host this project.”

The hub has been launched thanks to research and funding from Swansea University, which will study the impact it has on supporting families.

Professor Amy Brown, director for the centre of Lactation, Infant Feeding and Translation at Swansea University, said: “We were delighted to have been awarded research funding from Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to develop our infant feeding research.

“Part of this funding enabled the set up and delivery of the hub alongside a programme of research to examine its impact within the hospital and community.

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“Going forward we will be conducting a number of research studies to better understand how donor milk can support families including when babies are born prematurely but also where breastfeeding might not be possible, such as when a mother is undergoing cancer treatment.

“We are particularly interested in how donor milk may support parental mental health, both through receiving it for a baby or from the experiences of breastfeeding mothers being able to donate their milk to support other families.”

 The university was helped to launch the first hub in Wales by the Human Milk Foundation, a charity that supports parents to feed their babies with human milk.

As part of her work at Imperial College to research the impacts of human milk banks, Dr Natalie Shenker co-founded the UK’s first independent, non-profit human milk bank, Hearts Milk Bank, which will manage the hub in Swansea.

“The aim of the charity is to make sure there’s national equity for families to both receive and donate milk,” she said.

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“Wales hasn’t had a milk bank service of its own for many years, and that has really affected how many mums are able to donate, and how hospitals can use donor milk, if there are challenges in accessing sufficient supplies when needed.

“We know it can be a wonderful thing for mums to be able to donate their milk to help other families.

“It can be utterly heartbreaking for women to have to throw away their milk, particularly for mothers with babies in hospital, and those whose babies sadly do not survive.”

Gareth Howells, executive director of nursing, said: “Everyone at Swansea Bay is committed to building a truly equitable service where families can donate and access donor human milk.

“We are very proud to be opening our milk hub at Singleton Hospital.

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“We are also looking forward to helping more families to receive and donate human milk and to growing the hub in the coming years.”

To find out more about the work of the Human Milk Foundation and Hearts Milk Bank and find out more about donating your milk visit their website here https://heartsmilkbank.org/donating 

Lead image: Dr Natalie Shenker (left), who co-founded Hearts Milk Bank with Gillian Weaver (right), with Professor Amy Brown of Swansea University (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Clydach

18 year-old woman dies and another in hospital after late night Swansea Valley crash

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Police are appealing for witnesses after a fatal road traffic accident on the A4067 travelling from Swansea to Godre’r Graig

South Wales Police are reporting that a white Citroen C1 left the road shortly before 1.30am on Sunday 23 January.

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An 18 year-old woman was tragically declared to have died at the scene. A second 18 year-old woman was taken to University Hospital Wales with non-life-threatening injuries.

No other vehicle is thought to have been involved in the accident.

The A4067 was closed between the Pontardawe Tesco store and the B4603 Ynysmeudwy Road for a number of hours while police carried out investigations.

A spokesperson for South Wales Police said: “We are appealing to anyone who may have witnessed or has dash-cam footage of the incident or the manner in which the white Citroen C1 was being driven prior to the collision to contact us.”

Police can be contacted online, by calling 101 or by emailing SWP101@south-wales.police.uk quoting occurrence number 2200024693.

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(Lead image: Google Maps)

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