'I've donated a pint for every year I've lived'
A granddad who first gave blood when his mother became ill '“ and has since been helping to save babies' lives '“ has reached a proud milestone.
Bill Roberts received a special badge and certificate for giving 75 pints of blood in his lifetime.
“I’ve been donating blood since 1963,” he said.
“It started with my mother being ill. She needed a blood transfusion. I thought that’s a good idea, where does all this blood come from?”
Bill, who originates from Rishton, and his Rochdale-born wife Pat, 71, have been married for 50 years.
He has been spurred on with his donations following the tragic death of a baby.
“A good friend, their grandson died,” said Bill. “He had loads of operations. There was something wrong with his heart when he was four. They must have used gallons of the stuff. It really made me think what I’m doing makes a difference. It really makes it feel worthwhile.”
Bill said he was not aware at first that his blood was being used to help save babies’ lives.
He explained: “My grandson Max came with me and the person who was taking the blood was telling him about it.
“She said these brown labels on the donation means it’s got special anti-bodies and it’s used for neo-natal babies – that’s something I wasn’t aware of.
“They take my blood separately, process it separately and turn one big bag into ten smaller bags.
“So I felt good abut it.”
Bill said he is informed about where his blood is going to.
“The last one went to Wythenshawe Hospital and the one before that to Salford. It’s not anonymous anymore, if you like. The fact that they take it right through to where it’s being used, I think, is brilliant, it makes a connection.”
Bill urged others to think about giving blood.
“It’s painless,” he promised. “They look after you, you get a cup of tea and a bourbon biscuit at the end of it.
“Because I’ve been going for so long, I can continue as long as I feel fit enough to do it. I was keen to have a pint for every year I’ve lived - so I’ve achieved that.”
6,000 donations every day
The NHS’ blood and transplant service says there is a constant need for more donations to ensure there are enough supplies for all blood groups and types to treat every type of condition. The service requires 6,000 blood donations every donations every day to treat patients in need across England.
A spokesman said: “Each year we need approximately 200,000 new donors, as some donors can no longer give blood.
“Most people between the ages of 17-65 are able to give blood. Around half our current donors are over 45. That’s why we need more young people (over the age of 17) to start giving blood, so we can make sure we have enough blood in the future. We need to maintain a regular supply of all blood groups and types so we can provide it to the hospitals and patients who need it.
“We sometimes need to target specific blood types to increase stock levels. That’s why we sometimes contact regular donors with the particular blood type we need, and ask them to give blood. We are indebted to our regular blood donors.”