'Giant' boost to blood donations

Published Wednesday, 08 February 2012
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With more blood donors desperately needed in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Giants have not only signed up - they've been meeting youngsters whose lives have been saved by transfusions.

'Giant' boost to blood donations
Belfast Giants star Jon Pelle has signed up to give blood. (© UTV)

The ice hockey team have always been big fans of giving back to the community who support them and were keen to do something that would really make an impact.

"I know some of the guys are scared of needles ..." Giants star Jon Pelle - who has just been named the Elite League's Player of the Week - confessed to UTV.

"But it's something we'll be happy to do to make a difference."

Pretty much every home game, we’ll have some families and children come in - I think it’s something they really enjoy and we enjoy too. To see the smiles on the kids’ faces and have them get the autographs and everything, it’s a lot of fun for everyone.

Jon Pelle, Belfast Giants

At the weekend, best friends Joshua Fletcher and Brian Kerr were invited by Giants general manager Todd Kelman to celebrate their 10th birthdays as special guests of the team at the Odyssey Arena.

Both boys suffer from extremely rare genetic blood disorders and Joshua has needed transfusions three times a week since he was just six weeks old until two years ago - when he received a life-saving bone marrow transplant from sister Jodi, Northern Ireland's first ever 'designer baby'.

Brian's condition, however, has no known cure at this time and he still requires blood transfusions every two weeks.

Neither of them have allowed their conditions to hold them back though and they told UTV they had an amazing time meeting their hockey-playing heroes and even taking to the ice themselves.

I can’t thank the Belfast Giants enough – not only for looking after our boys and giving them their wish, but for also continuing to be blood donors. Anybody else out there who loves the Belfast Giants, let’s follow in their footsteps and become blood donors.

Gaye Kerr, Brian’s mum

"I'd really like to thank the Giants for donating blood," Brian said.

"It helps save lives and it helps me have fun too - if I didn't get platelets, I wouldn't be allowed to have fun and I wouldn't be allowed to do loads of things."

There is an increasing demand for blood donations in Northern Ireland, with around 500 people every week in need of transfusions - but currently only 6% of the population are donors.
© UTV News
Comments Comments
Nicola in S Yorks wrote (1,087 days ago):
If you are signing up as a blood donor and are under 40 and healthy (bar a few restrictions) then please consider also signing up to the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Registry and save a life. Thank you.
Colin Dickson in Crossgar wrote (1,088 days ago):
Good news, might prick someone in joining. It's very easy, I've given 43 donations of blood and have now started to give platelets. Maybe the Giants could give some tickets to people who donate?
Eleanor in Derrytrasna, Lurgan wrote (1,088 days ago):
6% of the population are doners? A lot more than 6% of sick people need blood/ platelet transfusions each year. Come on people, you never know when you or one of yours will urgently need blood...no excuses for not donating. Just check out the NI Blood Transfusion web site for details of blood donation venues in your locality.
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