Sign up and save lives

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JUST nine months ago, teenager Jack Wood was left fighting for his life and came within moments of losing a leg after being hit by a taxi as he walked to school.

After six operations and four blood transfusions, Jack has finally been given the all-clear to get on with his life.

But today, the battling 17-year-old has hailed the blood donors who saved his life.

As the Mail launches a new campaign in a bid to halt the concerning decline in young people signing up to give blood, Jack admitted: “Had it not been for the people who give blood, I wouldn’t be here today.”

His mum, Andrea, 39, who feared she had lost her son after the accident in March this year, added: “It’s something you don’t really think about until something like this happens.

“But now I know just how important blood donors are, they saved my son’s life.”

Worryingly, the number of young people signing up to give blood in Hartlepool is dropping fast.

The number of 17-24 year-olds in the town registering has fallen every year since 2008.

Just 172 people in the age group have signed up this year, compared to 236 in 2007 and in August this year only 10 people aged between 17 and 24 registered, a huge difference in comparison to the 46 who signed up back in February 2007.

Of the 172 young people who have registered to give blood this year, just 26 of them are 17 or 18.

The Mail has now teamed up with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and is calling on the young people in Hartlepool to sign up and save lives.

NHSBT’s lead donor relations manager for Hartlepool, Donna Batty, said: “We welcome first-time donors right up to the age of 65 and there is no upper age limit for existing donors.

“However, at the moment, we’re particularly keen to hear from young people as they are the donors of the future and the number of young people signing up to give blood has fallen dramatically in recent years.”

Over the course of the last two years, 2,400 people have give blood in Hartlepool.

The NHS say that over a lifetime every donor can help more than 500 people and hospitals need 7,000 units of blood every day, helping to save or improve the lives of three people.

Every single year the NHS Blood and Transplant team need to recruit 225,000 new people to replace existing donors who drop out of the system.

Jack, who lives on the Headland with mum Andrea, and his dad, Jeff, 52, who is a blood donor himself, was left with half of his liver ruptured and bleeding and the tibia and fibula in his left leg completely smashed after the accident, in March this year.

The Hartlepool College of FE student spent four days in intensive care at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

Andrea, a senior support worker for adults with disabilities and learning difficulties, added: “I can’t describe what it felt like to see him in intensive care.

“We feared the very worst but thanks to the staff at hospital and the people who gave blood, he’s made a full recovery and last week he was discharged from hospital for good.”

Donna added: “We really hope young people in Hartlepool respond to this appeal and we’re very grateful to the Hartlepool Mail for supporting it.”