HERE are four beaming children none of whom would be alive today if a stranger had not given blood.
Each of their lives was saved by a transfusion, yet many of us never find the time to sign up to become a donor.
NHS Blood and Transplant is encouraging readers to make giving blood one of their New Year resolutions.
It is particularly calling on men to donate because their blood can be more suitable for treating patients. The families of these four survivors tell Lynsey Hope their stories.
'We worry every day he might suffer a serious bleed'
GEORGE CLAXTON lives with mum Faye, 36, a salon owner, dad Luke, 34, an electrical engineer, and sister Ella, six, in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Faye says:
"When George was 14 months old he was diagnosed with a rare platelet disorder.
"The condition doesnt have a name but it means his blood cant clot properly.
"Tiny blood cells called platelets in his blood are the wrong shape and size and he has to take medication daily.
"We found out he had it after he suffered a virus and came out with a rash.
"Its called petechiae but can look similar to meningitis.
"We took George to A&E at Hinchingbrooke Hospital near Huntington. Blood tests came back negative and we were sent home.
"But two weeks later, we were back again.
"We were referred to specialists at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, who discovered George was bleeding under the skin.
"Its been hard to accept its a lifelong condition and not something that can be cured.
"There have been two occasions when George has needed a transfusion.
"The first was in June 2016.
"Doctors had to perform a transfusion before he had a tooth extracted to make sure he didnt bleed too much during the procedure.
"In May last year, he fell over in the school playground and hurt his elbow, causing a bleed in his joint.
"George has been brave from the start.
"He loves football but we worry every day he may have an accident that causes a serious bleed.
"He can also have spontaneous bleeds.
"His little sister was also diagnosed with the condition.
"She hasnt needed a transfusion yet but she may do and that is devastating for us as parents.
"Were so grateful to people who donate blood.
"It can enable people to live."
'Just an hour of your time could be the gift of a lifetime'
JESSICA FAY lives in Burnley with her mum Laura Bell, 32, dad Adam Fay, 39, who is a carer, and her brothers Kyle, 14, Denver, 13, Jayden, eight and Taylor, six. Laura, a full-time mum, says:
"Jessica was diagnosed with meningitis and septicaemia when she was 15 weeks old.
"I took her to the GP when she started feeling unwell.
"She wasnt feeding and had a high temperature.
"The doctor was concerned and said I must take her straight to hospital.
"Within hours of arriving at A&E, Jessica stopped breathing and was put on life-support.
"The disease had taken over her body and, one by one, her organs were shutting down.
"There was only one option. A blood transfusion might dilute the infection in her blood and give her a chance.
"There was a risk her body would reject the blood and we knew if that happened wed lose her.
"Incredibly though, that blood transfusion saved her life.
"She remained in intensive care for a week and, after three weeks, she came home.
"Jessica was being given so many treatments in those terrible few weeks that I didnt think too much about where the blood had come from.
"But when she recovered, I realised that without it she would not have made it. Unfortunately, Jessica suffered some brain damage because of what happened.
"She has social communication disorder and finds it hard to make friends.
"She is an incredible child and Im so grateful to whoever it was that took the time to donate blood for her.
"If someone hadnt donated that blood, Jessica would be dead.
"She has done all she can to give something back.
"Shes raised thousands of pounds for charity by organising events in the community.
"I would urge anyone who can to give blood it is just an hour of your time but it could be the gift of a lifetime to a child like Jessica.'
'Our baby can be in a lot of pain due to the disease'
EZRAH PINK was born with sickle cell disease. He lives with his mum Serena, 30, who looks after an office building, and her partner Courtney, 32, an estate agent, in Beckenham, Kent. Serena says:
"We knew before Ezrah was born that he might have sickle cell disease.
"When I was pregnant, doctors found out I carried a gene.
"About a week after he was born, they confirmed Ezrah had the disease.
"People with sickle cell produce unusual C-shaped red blood cells, meaning they sometimes get stuck or block blood vessels. At first, he didnt show any symptoms.
"He started having problems when he was around 11 months.
"Since then its been a whirlwind. We have been in and out of hospital.
"Id never known anyone with sickle cell so its been a tough learning curve and the condition will affect him for life.
"Ezrah has already had four blood transfusions.
"When one of his odd-shaped blood cells gets stuck, it causes what is called a sickle cell crisis and this can cause a great deal of pain.
"Ezrah is also prone to serious infections.
"He takes penicillin every day as well as folic acid to boost his immunity.
"Id never given blood before having Ezrah.
"It wasnt until the first time doctors told me that they were going to have to transfuse him that I realised how important it was.
"Im pregnant now so I cant do it myself just yet, but as soon as I can sign up, I will.
"You never know whats round the corner.
"Its not until it happens to someone close to you that you realise how important it is."
'While recovering he's had more than 50 transfusions'
JACOB JESSEL lives with mum Emma Riley, 47, an NHS project manager, dad Nick Jessel, 44, a sales manager, and brother Sam, eight, near Grimsby, Lincs. Emma says:
"Jacob was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder when he was seven.
"We went on a camping trip and he was bitten by a mosquito. A huge bruise came out, which covered most of his forearm.
"Our GP took blood and told us his blood count was dangerously low and that we had to take him straight to hospital.
"It was a huge shock and it was obvious to us that doctors feared he had leukaemia.
"Jacob was given an emergency bone marrow biopsy at Sheffield Childrens Hospital and we were told he probably had cancer.
"Waiting for the results of the biopsy was horrible.
"We were relieved when the tests came back negative, but more tests revealed he had an incurable bone marrow disorder.
"Doctors said hed need a transplant, which he had in 2017.
"There was only one match on the register at the time so we went ahead with it. But sadly that didnt work.
"About a month later, he had a transplant using his dads stem cells, which has been effective.
"While recovering, he had more than 50 blood transfusions.
"He now attends a follow-up clinic every four to six months to make sure his blood keeps working properly.
"Before Jacob was ill, I was one of these people who never got round to giving blood.
"I thought it was a good thing to do but I kept putting it off.
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"But every time a unit of blood was delivered to the ward for Jacob, I felt incredibly relieved that someone, somewhere, had taken the time to give blood.
"Now I give blood regularly. Its a good feeling to know you are helping someone else.
"I know how grateful the recipient will 7 be. Its the best gift anyone can give."
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