DEDICATED blood donors who between them have saved up to 1,200 lives have been recognised by NHS Blood and Transplant for their loyalty and commitment.
The lifesaving efforts of 27 blood donors from across Sussex were honoured with commemorative medals at the ceremony in Brighton.
Among them were people who had given at least 100 donations.
Stephen Rugg, 68, from Ferring has been a committed blood donor for 47 years, having started donating blood from the age of 21.
He said: “My father encouraged me to donate, when I was younger. I was very pleased to do something worthwhile. It is also the easiest way to save a life.”
Brian Hooker, 67, from Littlehampton has been a loyal donor for almost 50 years, having started donating blood at the age of 18.
He said: “I was curious of my blood group when I was about 18 years of age. I am the captain of a Worthing Golf Club and would like to encourage more members to give blood.
“It’s just an hour out of your life, every three months that could save someone else’s life for good.”
Each blood donation can potentially save the lives of up to three people, so if a donor has given blood 100 times they have potentially helped save the lives of up to 300 patients in hospitals.
Out of the four per cent of the eligible population who give blood, just one per cent reach 100 donations.
Guest speakers at the ceremony were Claire and Richard Baldwin, who lost their eight-year-old son Harvey on October 30 last year, after an 18-month battle with leukaemia.
Claire said: “It was a privilege to meet with such dedicated donors.
“Harvey received a total of 35 units of blood and 56 pools of platelets during his 18 months of illness. Before this, we were unaware to the needs of those undergoing any long-term treatment, let alone a young child with blood cancer. But our eyes have been opened to the need for blood for many different reasons.
“And I would like to thank blood donors for the 91 times they prolonged my son’s life and gave us another day with him.”
Michelle Laserna, senior marketing co-ordinator at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “I have witnessed the dramatic effect blood transfusions have made both to my friends, and to patients who I have visited as part of my work.
“These loyal donors are very special to us, which is why such an event gives us the opportunity to say a real heart felt thanks.
“Between them, they have saved thousands of lives, and improved the lives of countless others who have required blood transfusion. These donors are an inspiration to us all.”
Visit www.blood.co.uk or call the Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 for more information on giving blood or to book an appointment. A unit of blood is measured as 470ml, or just under a pint.