Brave Jack asks you to be a superhero

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A BRAVE 11-year-old boy, who is currently recovering from his second bone marrow transplant, is today encouraging people to donate blood.

Jack Driver, who suffers from a rare disorder which attacks his immune system, said those who donate blood or bone marrow are “heroes”.

The former Sidegate Lane pupil had his first transplant at Bristol Hospital for Children back in August 2010, but after his body failed to accept the bone marrow he fell seriously ill.

Today, Jack is recovering after having his second bone marrow transplant in little more than two years.

Blood and bone marrow

The bone marrow is the soft fatty tissue found in the cavities of our bones, where most of the blood cells are made.

Aplastic anaemia is a rare disease that develops when the bone marrow fails to produce these blood cells.

Patients may have symptoms of anaemia such as paleness, fatigue, shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate.

Other symptoms include excessive bleeding and a tendency to bruise.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have started an appeal to recruit vital new blood donors.

NHSBT wants to recruit 100,000 new donor registrants in the next 100 days to protect future blood stocks.

Every year 225,000 new donors are needed to replace existing donors who drop out of the system. This year, the need is more urgent following a dramatic decline in the number of younger donors signing up.

www.blood.co.uk

He said: “Donate blood and you will be a hero, donate bone marrow and you will be a superhero.”

Jack, of Beverley Road, Ipswich, has been battling aplastic anaemia – a condition where the bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish the blood cells.

Jack was diagnosed with the condition in May 2008, when he was seven, and since then his trips to hospital for blood tests and transfusions have become normality.

His mum, Helen, told the Ipswich Star she was “incredibly proud” of her son.

“I really don’t know how he does it,” she said. “He is at home now recovering and he is having tests because his blood count after the transplant hasn’t been as high as they would have wanted.

“He has such a positive outlook on things. Obviously there are times when it’s hard for him, but I guess after five years we have got used to it all. He does have times when things get very tough but we get through them.

“I would really encourage people to donate blood because they are saving lives by doing so. We don’t know what would have happened if Jack wasn’t given blood so many times. People that donate are really special people.”

Jack has been given more than 1,600 Beads of Courage from Essex-based charity Be Child Cancer Aware, which offers support to children fighting serious illnesses. The beads mark all of his trips to the hospital for procedures including blood tests and transfusions.

“I think when he looks at the beads it puts everything into perspective for him,” she said. “It shows his journey and what he’s going through.”

Jack attends East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices Treehouse Hospice in St Augustine’s Gardens for respite care. He hopes to be able to start Northgate High School next year.

For more information visit www.bechildcanceraware.org or www.facebook.com/bechildcanceraware

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