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Platelet donor John takes on ‘20 in 20’ challenge

A platelet donor who set himself the challenge to donate platelets at 20 different donor centres in England during 2020 has passed the halfway point, despite being delayed because of Covid-19.

2 October 2020

A platelet donor who set himself the challenge to donate platelets at 20 different donor centres in England during 2020 has passed the halfway point, despite being delayed because of Covid-19.

Progress had to be halted in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but John Tett, 70, from Brewood in Staffordshire, has picked up where he left off to carry on his impressive donation target.

John donating with a face mask on

Over 60% of platelet donations are used to help someone with cancer. Each donation can save and improve the lives of up to 12 children or three adults.

There is a particular need for platelet donors who are A negative (1) or AB negative (2), whether an existing or new donor. This is because these platelet types can safely be given to any patient whatever their blood type and are always in high demand.

John initially became a blood donor in 1973 and started donating in Edgware – he later became a platelet donor in 1982.

John said, “My doctor suggested I go to donate platelets when there was a cricket match on television and that we’d watch it together while I donated. I did just that and the staff treated me so well – I haven’t looked back since!”

I always get treated well and the staff are great – they make me feel relaxed and look after me. The whole donation process is marvellous.
John

Long-term platelet donor

Platelet donors can donate more often than blood donors – many donors attend once a month. It is flexible as to how much time you have to commit, and also how much of each platelet type the hospitals require.

John gave his first platelet donation for the 20 in 20 challenge at Edgware donor centre on January 2. Before lockdown he ticked Gloucester, Oxford, Bristol and Nottingham donor centres off the list.

In line with Government guidance on social distancing at the time, NHSBT applied a temporary deferral for donors aged 70 and above in the earlier months of the pandemic.

Unfortunately this meant that John had to put his challenge on hold. John said: “Obviously, I was very disappointed that we had to go into lockdown, and I was unable to donate, but fully appreciated why we had to do it.

“During the lockdown I was keen to get back to donating as soon as possible to try and stick to getting the challenge done in 2020. Understandably I was not able to donate for nearly four months so unfortunately this will not be possible now but I am still determined to donate as often as I can this year.”

NHSBT has now lifted the restrictions on donors aged 70 and over – to reflect the latest government guidance – and people like John are now able to donate again (3).

John was determined to carry on as soon as he was able to do so: “Rather than stop donating, I decided to continue and make the most of this situation I find myself in – I now hope to visit 20 donor centres in England by April 2021 or before, which would be the equivalent of a year to do the challenge in.

Since resuming his challenge in late June, John has donated at Luton, Manchester (Plymouth Grove), West End and Liverpool donor centres, had his tenth – and half-way – appointment at Manchester (Norfolk House) donor centre, and most recently gave his at eleventh donation at Cambridge donor centre on 30 September.

Extra safety measures on session including triage on arrival, social distancing, extra cleaning, and the use of facemasks, are now in place.

I’ve had no problems with the new safety measures at all. The only real changes are a few medical questions relating to coronavirus on arrival and that you have to wear a mask
John

Long-term platelet donor

Penny Crook-Jones, Area Matron for the Central West region at NHS Blood and Transplant said, “John’s commitment to continuing this challenge despite his setbacks is admirable. It’s not every day we see donors travelling the lengths of the country to support us like this – and in doing so John is also helping to raise awareness about the lesser known need for platelet donors.

“We are grateful to John for his passion and commitment to going the extra mile for our service this year.

“John has over a thousand donation credits so far, so the number of people that he has helped with those donations is insurmountable. If you are an existing platelet donor – particularly A negative and AB negative – or would like to try it, please visit platelets.blood.co.uk. We particularly need more of these donors right now.”

John’s primary aim of this challenge is to raise awareness of the importance of platelet donation and he hopes to encourage others to register as donors.

He added, “I get a real buzz from being a donor and I’ve already signed three people up as donors!”

John is also raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital charity (4).

Notes

  1. Around 8% of donors have A negative blood. By comparison, 30% of donors have A positive blood. Get more information on the NHS Blood Donation website
  2. AB negative is the rarest blood type in the ABO blood group, accounting for just 1% of our blood donors. In total only 3% of donors belong to the AB blood group. Get more information on the NHS Blood Donation website
  3. This story was accurate at the time of going to print. This is a fluid situation and we are keeping our policies and guidance under constant review.
  4.  Visit John’s fundraising page