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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 16:23 GMT
'My debt to blood donors'
By David Kerr
BBC Scotland reporter

In January, Julie Slack was diagnosed with leukaemia and told she may only have two weeks to live.

Julie Slack
Julie Slack has persuaded her friends to give blood

Last week she received the all-clear.

Now the 32-year-old from Edinburgh wants to say "thank you" to all those who donated blood during her treatment.

"My diagnosis came out of the blue, and was the most shocking and frightening event that's ever happened to me," she told BBC Scotland.

"I had a million things to worry about, but thankfully a shortage of blood wasn't one of them.

"I was a committed blood donor before my diagnosis, and it really upsets me to see less people coming forward to give blood."

Julie is right to be concerned. The health service needs 197,000 people giving blood regularly to keep supplies at an acceptable level.

At present there are only 175,000 such donors - an all-time low.

Isobel Slack
This last week has been fantastic... the best Christmas present we could have wished for
Isobel Slack

So why are so few of us giving blood? Julie thinks fear plays a big factor.

"A lot of people - including my friends - are scared of needles.

"But they all pledged to me, when I wasn't well, that they'd go and try it at least once. They did and now they're all regular donors."

So what is her message to those busy with the post-Christmas sales?

"I'd say to people that they should try it, at least, once. You never know when you'll need blood yourself.

"You don't want the doctor to tell you there's none there when that happens.

"So I'd say to the shoppers that instead of nipping into a café for a cup of tea, nip into the blood donor centre, get a cup of tea there and give a pint of blood at the same time!"

Tea and biscuits

Her mother Isobel agreed, saying: "The last couple of years have been a nightmare, really hard going for both Julie and the family.

"This last week has been fantastic. The best Christmas present we could have wished for.

"So I'd urge people who are thinking of donating blood to give it a go. You get a free cup of tea and a biscuit too!"

Next month, Julie is off on skiing holiday to Finland. A remarkable recovery for which, she says, will leave her forever indebted to this country's blood donors.

SEE ALSO
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04 Dec 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Blood supply levels fall sharply
03 Jun 07 |  Scotland
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23 Feb 06 |  Scotland

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