Solome Mealin from Leeds depends on blood donors to stay alive
Solome Mealin from Leeds depends on blood donors to stay alive

Donors and staff at Leeds Donor Centre will be celebrating 20 years of saving lives this Thursday (August 3) to mark the milestone anniversary of the day the Headrow Centre first opened its doors.

NHS Blood and Transplant will be hosting a day of celebrations as a special thank you to the city’s loyal donors and dedicated donor centre team for saving thousands upon thousands of lives over the last 20 years.

Among those joining the celebrations will be donor Peter Ainsworth who recently made his 119th donation. Peter has been giving blood at the Headrow Centre since it opened after previously attending the former donor centre at Seacroft Hospital.

Peter, 57, who lives in Whitkirk, said: “I’ve been giving blood for around 30 years. I started because I saw it as a normal ‘citizen’ responsibility and I’ve never looked back.

“It’s a great experience at the Leeds Donor Centre, good location and friendly staff. I always leave feeling happy and look forward to the text afterwards telling me where my donation has gone.”

More than 100 donors are booked in to give blood on the big day. They will be treated to a choir performance and treats such as cake, and the centre will be decorated to mark the occasion.

Carrie-Anne Wood, Clinical Donor Centre Manager at Leeds, said: “It felt only fitting to celebrate the lives that have been saved as a direct result of the work done in this building over the last 20 years.

“We’re looking forward to a wonderful day celebrating as a thank you to our amazing donors and fantastic donor centre team. And of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration without some cake – the perfect post-donation snack!”

Solome Mealin from Leeds depends on blood donors to stay alive. She has sickle cell, an inherited blood disorder that can cause agonising crisis episodes and serious or even fatal long-term complications including organ damage and strokes.

She receives red cell exchanges every five weeks at St James’ Hospital. This is a process where the sickle-shaped red blood cells that her body produces are replaced with donated healthy red cells.

Solome, 43, said: “Happy 20th anniversary to the Leeds Donor Centre. Thank you to the blood donors and to everyone working so hard to make sure that the blood is donated safely and transported to patients who so desperately need it.

“Blood donors are my heroes. I will never be able to thank you all in person but thank you for the gift of life you have given me. Thank you for standing with me to fight sickle cell disease. Without your donated blood, my children would not have a mummy today.

“Every time you donate, you’re giving a gift of life, love, kindness, compassion, generosity to everyone who needs it. Thank you so much.”

The NHS always needs new donors to replace those who can no longer donate for reasons such as health or lifestyle changes. There is an urgent need for more donors of Black heritage as they are more likely to have the blood subtype needed to treat sickle cell patients.

Lynne Ainsworth, Clinical Donor Centre Manager at Leeds, said: “This year we need 2,600 more people in Leeds to join our loyal team of lifesavers so if you have never given blood before, now is a great time to start. We love to welcome new donors.

“Summer is a busy time of year and we are also urging our amazing existing donors not to forget to give blood so we can ensure blood stocks stay healthy this summer.”

Leeds Donor Centre is one of 25 permanent venues across England where people can give blood. The centre is open Monday to Saturday, has free wifi and generally has more appointments available than donation sessions in community venues such as church halls.

Blood is needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

Register and book an appointment to donate at or via the Give Blood app.