I started giving blood in the mid-1960s when I was about 25 and have given ever since. I was at theological college at the time and there was an appeal for donors so I signed up. It just seemed like the right thing to do. In total I have donated 61 units so far, plus two units of Best British blood when I was living in the USA. My donations were only interrupted in 1988 when I contracted malaria on a visit to Nigeria. Although it was a serious type, after a year or so they carried out further tests and confirmed I could start giving again. I continued giving fairly regularly until I was 60 years old and thought about giving up. Then a nurse told me about how my blood was especially valuable as it was used for neo-natal transfusions. It was a thrilling and wonderful thing to hear. I know that whoever receives it is grateful for it, but the thought of your blood going to tiny babies would make anybody want to give. The thought that an old man was able to offer life to tiny new babies moved me to tears and I resolved to continue as long as I could.
My resolve to give was strengthened when my baby grandson was put in intensive care for 24 hours, as a precaution, when he was born. He looked so incredibly fit and healthy amongst the other tiny little bodies in the cots around him and the thought that my blood might help them was fantastic. It made me realise how fortunate we were that he was ok and how necessary it was to help these other little children. I turned 70 last year and was told that I could go on donating for as long as I was fit. Each time you look at the multiple blood bags at a donor session you think ‘Which little baby could be helped by this?’, so I’d like to go on donating as long as possible. Perhaps I could be the world’s oldest donor? Donating blood is sharing a part of your life with other people so that they can have life. Compared to what those who need it go through, an hour spent donating blood is very little when you consider all the good that comes out of it.
John Lampard is a retired Methodist Minister. He enjoys working on his allotment, being entertained by his grandchildren and rejoices that he is in the 45th year of married life.