‘I can’t help Jack any more, but I can help others’

FELIXSTOWE: The mother of a young boy who tragically died from cancer has given her 50th blood donation in his memory – and is campaigning for more donors to come forward.

Carole “Caz” Wilkinson, of Fairfield Avenue, has been a blood donor since before her son, Jack, was born.

But the importance of blood donation really hit home when Jack was diagnosed with a rare form of bladder cancer at the age of two.

After six months of arduous treatment for the toddler, including several blood and platelet transfusions, the disease went into remission.

But eight years later, his cancer returned more aggressively than ever.

Despite months of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and major surgery, Jack lost his battle to cancer in 2006 at just 12 years old.

Caz is now embarking on a campaign to encourage people to become blood donors, and kick-started this with her 50th donation at Felixstowe Leisure Centre, Undercliff Road West, yesterday.

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She said: “I can’t help Jack any more, but I like to think that I can help other children and adults when they need it.

“It’s not just for cancer patients, it’s for car crash victims or people who are having surgery.

“I hope this will highlight the need for more donors, because perhaps people don’t realise what a difference they can make by sparing just an hour of their time.

“I would like to think that perhaps I could persuade at least 50 new donors to come forward.”

Caz put out a special appeal for young donors, aged 17 or over, just a year older than Jack would be now, to register.

She also reassured anyone who might be put off by needles, as she found it easy to conquer her fear by knowing what a difference it could make to people’s lives.

Caz was accompanied yesterday by Dawn Charlton, a donor carer whom she met while donating, whose grandson, Adam, also died of cancer aged 15.

Derek Carr, donor relations manager for the blood transfusion service in East Anglia, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Caz for her support.

“Throughout such a difficult time she has continued to give blood to help other patients in need of vital blood transfusions.

“I really hope that her appeal will encourage many more people to join her in giving blood for the benefit of others.”

Jack, a former pupil at Colneis Junior School, often used to accompany his mother while she went to give blood, and helped promote the National Blood Service with her in 1999.

Caz added: “Jack always said he would be a donor when he grew up, so I think he would be proud of me.”

n To book an appointment, call the donor line on 0300 1232323 or visit www.blood.co.uk.