Peter Shilton is encouraging more men to donate blood to prevent a critical shortage
The former Leicester City, Stoke City and Nottingham Forest keeper is rightly proud of his achievements on the pitch – though probably still a bit sore about that famous “Hand of God” goal by the cheating Argentinian Maradona in 1986.
But he has some regrets about not doing more in his younger years to help save lives and not just goals, simply by donating blood.
Peter, awarded the OBE for his services to the sport, says when he was in his prime young, fit and healthy sportsmen were not actively encouraged to give blood to save others.
Only in later life has he come to realise what a vital role donation plays in helping the NHS save thousands of lives every year.
Now aged 68 he is too old to donate as NHS Blood and Transplant guidelines state donors must be aged 17 to 66, or up to 70 if they have regularly given blood for years.
Argentina’s Diego Maradona scores with his ‘Hand of God’, past England’s Peter Shilton
Giving blood shouldn’t take more than an hour of your time, yet a single donation can save or improve up to three lives.
But he is using his sporting profile to try to convince young men to put themselves up for donation at a time when their blood is desperately needed.
“When I was younger I didn’t really have any awareness about the importance of giving blood,” says Peter, who married former NHS manager and jazz singer Stephanie Hayward in 2016 and has two adult sons from his first marriage, in 1970, to Sue Flitcroft.
“In fact I thought giving blood was just something the older generation did.
“I want to try to make up for that now by encouraging young people, particularly men, to do what I would have done if I had known the importance of it at the time.
“After all, giving blood shouldn’t take more than an hour of your time, yet a single donation can save or improve up to three lives.”
England’s most capped player is pledging his support for a major new campaign by NHS Blood and Transplant, the body which oversees the distribution of blood and blood products.
IT HAS launched a Save England initiative to coincide with the national team’s current successful run at the World Cup in Russia, and ahead of tomorrow’s semi-final clash with Croatia.
The campaign, also backed by fellow England goalkeeping legend David Seaman, aims to boost public awareness of the constant need for more donations, particularly from men.
Men’s blood is especially useful for producing important blood products such as plasma or platelets, which are used to stem bleeding after injury or major surgery.
Men are also more likely to have higher levels of iron in their blood and so can donate more frequently than women.
Yet it is estimated that two-thirds of new donors who volunteer to give their blood are women.
NHS Blood and Transplant warns it needs at least another 25,000 male donors to come forward in the next few weeks and months to top up supplies that can become severely depleted over the summer.
The organisation says it is most in need of donors who have blood types O negative, B negative or Ro, a rare subtype mostly found in black male donors. Ro-type blood is essential for treating the 15,000 or so people in the UK, mostly from the black community, who suffer with debilitating sickle cell disease.
This is an incurable, lifelong condition where the body produces abnormal red blood cells that do not function properly, causing severe pain and infections.
More than half of all men carry types A, B or AB and roughly 44 per cent have type O.
Since the Second World War, when they were first used en masse to treat soldiers and civilians with major injuries, blood transfusions have saved countless lives across the world.
Blood is made up of four main elements: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma.
Most transfusions involve red blood cells that have been separated from the other components in blood, as they are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body.
When a patient loses blood during an operation, they lack sufficient red blood cells to facilitate a full recovery.
Without red blood cells, organs start to fail and can shut down.
Peter says: “I felt I really needed to back this campaign because of the shortage of men donating blood.
Peter Shilton and Stephanie Hayward sighting at the Rainbows Celebrity Charity Ball last year
“I want to try to target football supporters across the generations in order to raise awareness.
“My wife Steph was a senior manager in the NHS for many years and so gained first-hand insight into the needs of frontline care.
“She has repeatedly stressed to me the risks of a national shortage and how valuable every single donor is to saving lives, from routine operations to cancer patients.
“In fact she was fundamental to my decision to support this campaign.”
Mike Stredder, of NHS Blood and Transplant, says a staggering 700 new donors a day are needed in order to meet patients’ needs at all times.
“There is a particular need for O negative and B negative donors,” he says.
“These are vulnerable blood groups that often run low on stocks at various times of the year.
“Anyone who knows they have one of these blood groups, please do come forward to donate.”
Potential donors are encouraged to register and to book an appointment at one of the donor centres around the country.
For all the plaudits he received for his performances in goal, Peter insists the positive response he has had for his role in the campaign are every bit as heart-warming.
He says: “The response has been huge and extremely positive. “My family are very impressed and I just hope I can promote better awareness among youngsters about the need to give blood so they can be heroes off the pitch.”
For more information visit blood.co.uk
Read more here: Daily Express :: Health Feedhappy wheels
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