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Owen's Story

My son Jonathan was born January 1969 and on his third birthday, we had a small party for him, but he was not feeling well all the day. As soon as the party was over, I put him to bed and he went to sleep immediately. Later that night I went to check on him and I was instantly hit by a foul smell in the room. I lifted Jonathan, who was asleep with his thumb in his mouth. I removed his thumb and discovered several large blood blisters on the inside of his mouth. My wife and I were really frightened at this, and went to our doctor, who came immediately to our house, and insisted that Jonathan be removed to Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin. The doctor told us that he would follow us to the hospital to ascertain what was really wrong with the boy. His initial diagnosis was a Streptococcal sore throat.

Jonathan was admitted to the hospital, where we were advised that his platelet count was less that 6,000 (normal count being 190k - 400k) and that he would need to stay in hospital for further tests. The hospital advised us that they would need to do a biopsy to extract some bone marrow from his pelvis. Even with this information, it never dawned on us as to what might be really wrong with our son.

The hospital administered two full units of platelets to Jonathan, and after three weeks in hospital, he was permitted to go home. All along we were advised that Jonathan was suffering from "Purpera"

Subsequently we had one of the nurses who had looked after our son out to dinner, and she advised us that, all along the doctors were concerned that Jonathan was suffering from Leukaemia, which in 1972 would have been considered a fatal illness. Needless to say we were staggered with this information and when I inquired as to the number of blood donations were required to make up one unit of platelets, the nurse advised that she thought it was 20 donations per whole unit of platelets. From that day I promised that I would donate blood for as long as I could, and as my son is now 43 years old I am still donating, though occasionally I am deferred. I have repaid the number almost sevenfold at this stage and will continue as long as my physician says it is OK. The fact that my blood group is RhA- is especially useful to IBTS and I would recommend everyone to put their right arm to the beneficial use of all those patients in hospital who are so dependent on their donations.

Owen

National Blood Centre, James's Street, Dublin 8.       Tel: 00 353 1 4322800       Fax: 00 353 1 4322930