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Donor praised after bullied into signing

PUBLISHED: 04:16 13 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:11 03 March 2010

GENEROUS Donald Catchpole has donated a massive 75 pints of blood in his 68 years.

The award-winning blood donor was at first bullied in to giving blood when he was a 22-year-old airforce recruit.

GENEROUS Donald Catchpole has donated a massive 75 pints of blood in his 68 years.

The award-winning blood donor was at first bullied in to giving blood when he was a 22-year-old airforce recruit.

But ever since he has kept up the habit especially as blood transfusions helped his sister in her battle against cancer.

Mr Catchpole, of Colneis Road, Felixstowe, began donating in 1956 while he was carrying out his National Service in Padgate, Manchester. He said he and the other recruits were lined up and asked to step forward if they wanted to give blood. Nobody stepped forward but after they were shouted and screamed at Mr Catchpole remembers being so petrified that he gave in and donated blood.

And he has being doing so ever since without the need for such aggressive persuasion.

But looking back those 46 years Mr Catchpole said he is glad he was persuaded to give blood as he may not have started otherwise.

"Once you start and you know what's involved, you just carry on," he said.

The father-of-two said he understood why people were put off giving blood because they were so terrified of the needle. He can still remember when around 12 out of 50 big butch airforce men fainted after being inoculated.

"It does hurt when the needle goes in but it's not much. It's just like the prick on the finger, a little prick when the needle goes in and I have had no ill effects at all," he said.

His advice to people scared or worried about going to donor sessions was: "Get past your first donation and then you're away."

Currently 94 per cent of British people do not donate blood. "It's a shame," said Mr Catchpole, "but I don't condemn them for it because it's so personal all I would say is give it a try."

Mr Catchpole has the rare blood type O-, which is also known as universal since it can be used to treat patients of other blood groups safely in an emergency.

The retired project leader who used to work in the defence industry has seen first hand how donating blood can help someone, as his late sister Doris Wells of Ipswich had cancer and needed blood transfusions every month before she died in October.

"It kept her alive for a bit longer, it made her life not good but better than it would have been without it," he said.

Mr Catchpole is going to continue donating blood until he is 70, which is the oldest a blood donor can be.

"I was trying to build it up," he said. "I was trying to get to a hundred but I shan't get there unfortunately."

WEBLINK:www.blood.co.uk

The average human body contains eight pints of blood.

Hospitals across England and Wales require 10,000 units of blood on a daily basis (a unit of blood is 470ml which is just over three quarters of a pint).

Currently only six per cent of the eligible population are registered as blood donors.

Only three per cent of those blood donors in the UK have donated over 75 pints of blood.

To be eligible to become a blood donor you must be aged between 17 and 60 or 70 for regular donors, weigh over 7st 12lbs (45kgs) and be in general good health.

It is possible to give blood three times a year, or every 16 weeks.

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