Dunstable is now the 28th fire station across the country that has passed an assessment to host life-saving blood donation sessions. NHS Blood and Transplant Chief Executive Ian Trenholm came to this first donation session at Dunstable Community Fire Station.
In 2017, Bedfordshire Firefighter Jason Hollamby was involved in a serious road traffic collision resulting in a traumatic amputation. He was taken by air ambulance to Coventry University Hospital. In the air ambulance, the medics worked hard to keep Jason alive, receiving 51 units of universal O negative blood. Once arriving at the hospital Jason received a further 12 units of blood during emergency surgery totalling 63 units of blood.
Jason was placed into an induced coma for two days followed by being on life support for two weeks, during which he underwent seven operations. Jason is now on the road to recovery, receiving physio and adapting to life with a prosthetic leg and a wheelchair.
Jason said: “Having worked for the fire service for 29 years, and seen a number of road collisions I didn’t think I would make it out alive. I owe my life to the loyal blood donors whose generosity ensured that blood was available in the air ambulance and during surgery.
“My father had always donated blood and I did for many years but stopped over time as I started getting more tattoos. I now hope to encourage others to donate, as you never know when you or a member of your family will require it.”
Chief Fire Officer, Paul Fuller, CBE said: “The experience of one of our own Firefighters brings in to stark relief the vital need for blood donations.
The arrangement of providing fire stations for blood donation sessions is one way in which we are meeting our ambition to place our fire stations at the heart of the communities they serve. We hope it will result in the community seizing this opportunity on their doorstep.
“The Service shares a common goal with NHSBT – to save lives and we’re delighted that our station can be used to help donors save lives and we intend more donor sessions to be announced in the coming months”.
Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We are really pleased to be working with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to create a new place to give blood. Dunstable Fire Station is opening its doors to us to enable local people to donate easily. This new, free venue helps keep costs as low as possible for the wider NHS.
“Our life saving donors give their time and their donations for free. We are seeking partners who will do the same, and let us use their venues at no cost. Most people don’t realise that every year we spend around £4m on venue hire for blood donation sessions, equivalent to a few pounds on every donation.
“Each blood donation session has a potential to save around 300 lives and we look forward to seeing new and regular donors at our next session in Dunstable Community Fire Station.
“We always welcome new donors and we particularly need more black blood donors. For multi-transfused patients to get the best treatment, they need blood which is as closely matched to their ethnicity as possible. However, currently only 1% of blood donors in England are black.”
If you would like to give blood, please visit: www.blood.co.uk/ or call 0300 123 23 23 to make an appointment.