Friday, December 4, 1998 Published at 20:28 GMT
A Christmas gift of blood
Joanna Lumley and Matthew Slopecki launch the Christmas appeal
National blood stocks can fall by up to 40% over Christmas because people are too busy buying presents to give blood, says the National Blood Service.
It has launched a national campaign to replenish the blood supply and says blood is the best gift people can give for Christmas.
The campaign was launched at London's Hamleys toy shop by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley and two-year-old Matthew Slopecki.
Matthew's life was saved last Christmas by an emergency blood transfusion.
His circulation had collapsed to a dangerous level because of a bowel constriction.
He was only 11 months old at the time and babies of his size cannot survive an anaesthetic without a red blood cell transfusion to boost iron levels.
He has now made a full recovery.
Christmas at home
His parents, Alan and Caroline Slopecki, both work for the National Blood Service.
Mr Slopecki said: "Even though we have both worked for the blood service for many years, like everyone else we never thought we would need blood.
"We are very grateful to blood donors and all the staff at the hospital which means that Matthew is here to enjoy his second Christmas at home with us."
Blood donor centres will be open in the run-up to Christmas in order to combat a potential winter shortage.