Jennie joins the blood donor elect

Barnstaple woman clocks up 150 donations during half-a-century of helping others.

A BARNSTAPLE woman has joined a select group of people to have donated nearly 20 times her own body count in blood.

Jennie Thomson, 70, clocked up a staggering 150 ‘pintas’ during a session at Christ Church on Wednesday afternoon.

She has become one of around 1,800 people in the country to reach the milestone, something she has achieved through regular whole blood and platelet donations spanning more than half a century.

Jennie, who gave her first pint as an 18-year-old in 1960, said: “it always seemed like an obvious thing to do.

“At the time, I though I might need it one day so I’ll give some now and be in credit later; it’s sort of just gone on from there really.

“I’m very proud to have doe it, it’s a very rewarding experience, particularly platelet donation, as they can be used to help someone instantly,” added Jennie, a volunteer at Barnstaple Heritage Centre.

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Carolyn Thompson, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) area session manager, said each blood donation could potentially help up to three people.

She said: “Jennie has probably saved the lives of around 450 people; it is an amazing gift she has given to others.

“I’ve know a few people who have got to 100 but Jennie is my first donor to reach 150.”

Donated blood – measured as 470mls (just under a pint) – is used not only in accident and emergency situations, but also for patients undergoing surgery and receiving treatment for cancer and blood diseases, such as leukaemia.

Currently 7,000 units of blood are needed every day to help save the lives of sick and injured patients across England and North Wales.

NHSBT have launched a campaign to increase the amount of donors nationally by 100,000 by 14 February 2013.

“When I started 13 years ago around six percent of the eligible population donated blood but number is now nearer to four per cent,” added Carolyn.

“I think it’s partly due to time constrains and also a fear of needles.

“It does seem to run in the family – you often find that if someone donates blood, then their sons or daughters do it to.”

Jonathan Sewell, NHSBT lead donor relations manager, said: “It is great to see that people like Mrs Thomson are still so passionate about giving blood.

“Reaching the 150 donation milestone is a fantastic achievement and we hope that many more people have started their own blood donation journeys.

“It is down to the generosity and selflessness of our blood donors that patients can be treated for illness, injury or surgery and come out fighting the other side.

“The commitment that Mrs Thomson has shown to donating blood throughout her life is remarkable and we hope this inspires others to follow.

“We have seen a slight decline in the number of new donors recently so we would urge people to roll up their sleeve and pop down to their next session.

“There are always a number of donors who can no longer give and we rely heavily on new volunteers coming. This is particularly important at the moment as we have seen significantly less people signing up since the summer.”

To become a blood donor and book an appointment call the donor helpline on 0300 1232323 or visit

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