Bolton Wanderers sports science boss rolls up sleeves to donate blood
BOLTON Wanderers are hailing the success of new monthly blood donor sessions at the Reebok after a big upsurge in people who have rolled up their sleeves to help save lives.
Since February, more than 1,500 people have registered at the Reebok Stadium in a new venture launched by the National Blood Service and the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust.
Bringing sessions together under one roof, as opposed to smaller satellite venues, has seen a marked increase in donors.
And among them was Wanderers’ head of sports science Mark Leather, who is encouraged the club has got involved with a subject in which he has more than a passing interest.
“I’m really pleased to hear the number of donors has gone up since the club got involved as a venue. It’s great news,” he said.
“I think it represents what the club is about.
“It is very much part of the community and I can’t think of anything more community-minded than giving blood to help others.”
Leather has seen first-hand the importance of giving blood both on and off the pitch.
“When I was working at Liverpool Football Club my middle son suffered from meningitis and he needed blood transfusions in the intensive care unit,” he said.
“We feared the worst and we owe a lot to the people at Alder Hey for seeing him through.
“Things like that really bring it home just how vital this kind of thing really is.”
Leather — a lifelong Wanderers fan — is now back at his boyhood club for a second time but has extensive experience working at clubs up and down the Football League, in rugby league and at the Commonwealth Games in 1986.
And it was whilst working with Brighton Football Club nearly 25 years ago that Leather witnessed another life saved by blood donors.
“When I worked with Brighton many years ago a goalkeeper had come out to dive at one player’s feet and the guy kicked him in his lower stomach,” he recalled.
“A couple of minutes later I was called on to the pitch because the goalkeeper was passing blood.
“He had ruptured an artery and was bleeding severely.
“He was rushed to hospital and spent eight weeks receiving blood transfusions but they couldn’t stem the bleeding despite surgery. It took two or three attempts to do that.
“In the end he had been given 20 to 30 pints of blood, which is incredible for any football injury.
“It would not have been possible to do that for him if people in that community had not stepped forward to help at that time.”
The next three meetings will be held in the Platinum Suite on Friday, November 8, Thursday, November 14, and Monday, December 9.
For more information or to book an appointment at the Reebok, call 0300 1232323 or go to blood.co.uk.
Anyone wanting to donate for the first time should be aged between 17 and 65, weighing at least 50kg (seven stone 12lbs) and in general good health. There is no age limit for existing donors.
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