Calvin Campbell relies on about 128 people a year to keep him alive (Photo: Metro.co.uk/GLA)
A man with sickle cell disease, who depends on more than 100 people a year to keep him alive, is urging Londoners from black, Asian and ethnic minorities to donate blood.
Calvin Campbell, 58, started feeling pain when he was just six months old as a result of the genetic bleeding disorder.
In a new campaign to urge Londoners to donate blood, Mr Campbell told Metro.co.uk that he is in pain ‘every second of the day’ and has to take morphine daily.
“Before I had regular exchanges, I spent an average of eight to nine months a year, every year of my life, as an inpatient,” he said.
“Since I received exchanges, that has improved dramatically. I can have a life, I can do this job and stay out of the hospital.”
Sickle cell is the name for a group of hereditary health problems that affect red blood cells.
Calvin says he’s spent more of his life in the hospital than out (Photo: Calvin Campbell)
According to the NHS, it is a serious and lifelong health condition, with symptoms including painful sickle cell crises, which can be very severe and last for days or weeks, an increased risk of serious infections and anemia that can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. of breath.
It also disproportionately affects people of Black Caribbean and Black African descent and is the fastest growing genetic bleeding disorder.
Mr Campbell, who is an engagement coordinator for the NHS Blood and Transport Team, says he has spent more of his life in hospital than out.
“I have an unusual record. I spent two years, eight months – and two years of that without leaving the building as an inpatient at UCLH,” he shared with Metro.co.uk.
At one point, he needed three units of blood “every day” after developing leg ulcers.
The Mayor of London has launched a new campaign to urge Londoners to donate blood (Photo: Greater London Authority)
“I lost all skin, most of the flesh on both legs just below the knee, down to the soles of my feet.”
But his quality of life has improved tremendously since he was able to have blood exchanges.
He revealed how important it is that he continues to have access to donated blood.
Calvin said, “I get 10 to 11 units of blood every three or four weeks, that’s a lot.
“It takes about 128 people to keep me alive [every year].
“Blood donation is super important for someone like me, it means it keeps the pain I feel at a reasonable level every day.
Mayor speaks to Metro.co.uk about his drive to encourage Londoners to become blood donors
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says around 135,000 new donors are needed each year to meet demand, with donors urgently needed with black, Asian and ethnic minorities
After donating blood at the town hall event on Tuesday, he told Metro.co.uk: “If I can do it, anyone can do it, I’m a weakling. If I can’t worry about giving blood, so can others.”
Khan added that in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, “demand is greater than supply.”
“When you consider that a disproportionate number of Black Asian and minority ethnic communities live in London, I think we have a responsibility to support the rest of the country.
“Only 5% of donors across the country are black Asian and ethnic minorities, and I want London to give more to support other parts of the country.”
The mayor has called on black Londoners to read Metro.co.uk, give blood and become blood donors: ‘Once you give it, as soon as you give it more… speak to your friends, family, colleagues… have never too much blood.’
“I’m still aware of it, but it’s manageable and it keeps me alive, to be honest, it’s as simple as that.”
Approximately 135,000 new donors are needed each year to meet demand, with donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds urgently needed.
It is currently estimated that only 4% of donations come from people from these communities.
This is despite the fact that sickle cell is the most common and fastest growing genetic blood disorder in the country.
There is an increasing demand for some rare blood groups, such as Ro, which is most often needed by patients with sickle cell disease.
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a rare condition that affects hemoglobin, a protein carried by red blood cells that delivers oxygen throughout the body.
It is a lifelong blood disorder that occurs when a person inherits sickle cell genes from both parents.
Healthy red blood cells are disc-shaped and flexible, so they can move easily through the blood vessels and carry oxygen to vital organs.
However, in people with SCD, red blood cells lose their flexibility and become rigid, sticky, and crescent or crescent-shaped. The sickling process causes the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia (low hemoglobin and oxygen supply in the body due to destruction of red blood cells).
The sickle red blood cells can damage the walls of blood vessels, resulting in vasculopathy (lesions occurring in small blood vessels), and this, in combination with the sickle cells, causes blockages in capillaries and small blood vessels, causing pain and impeding the flow of blood and blood. supply of oxygen throughout the body.
Patients with SCD experience progressive, lifelong complications and severe morbidity, including damage to major organs such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain, which contributes to premature death and can affect the potential of patients and their families.
Black heirloom donors are 10 times more likely to have the Ro subtype
Describing the process, Calvin added, “It’s painless, the giving of blood takes about 15 minutes, and the whole process takes a maximum of 45 minutes from start to finish.”
“Each unit you donate, which is an average-sized bottle of water, saves the lives of at least three adults — it’s as simple as that.
‘Men can donate four times, women three times a year. You can now keep donating until the end of your life and it won’t cost you anything, it’s free.’
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How to donate blood
Blood.co.uk says you should first check your ability to give blood before registering your interest in becoming a donor online, or by calling 0300 123 23 23.
Log in to your online account and find an appointment – some appointments can be pre-booked. If you can’t book now, try a later date. A limited number of walk-in slots are available.
Then follow the preparation to give blood recommendations.
If you cannot keep your donation appointment, please let us know at least 3 days in advance. You can easily cancel or reschedule your appointment online.