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Mum of toddler with sickle cell appeals for Black blood donors to save lives

PUBLISHED: 13:16 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:44 09 October 2020

Layla Lawson with daughter Suki who has sickle cell disorder. Picture: Sickle Cell Society

Layla Lawson with daughter Suki who has sickle cell disorder. Picture: Sickle Cell Society

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The mum of a 17-month-old toddler who needs regular blood transfusions to stay alive is urging more Black people to donate ethnically-matched blood.

Suki Lawson who has sickle cell disorder. Picture: Sickle Cell SocietySuki Lawson who has sickle cell disorder. Picture: Sickle Cell Society

Layla Lawson’s daughter Suki is one of the youngest in the country who has sickle cell disorder, an inherited blood illness that is more common in Black people.

Without regular blood donations, it can cause organ failure, stroke or loss of vision, and can be fatal.

Layla, 26, an engagement officer at Harlesden’s Sickle Cell Society (SCS), said: “Suki has tough times with her sickle cell and it’s terrible to watch your child in pain.

“But the rest of the time she’s just a normal, happy little girl who loves Peppa Pig. That is all thanks to blood donors, and I can’t put into words how thankful I am to everyone who donates.”

Suki Lawson needs regular blood transfusions. Picture: Sickle Cell SocietySuki Lawson needs regular blood transfusions. Picture: Sickle Cell Society

Suki had already suffered two sickle cell crises by the time she was nine months old, the first in her spleen.

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“By the time we got to the hospital, she could barely sit up,” Layla said. “She was too pale. The doctors needed to get blood into her quickly to save her life. I remember sitting there, just watching her breathe.

“As her veins are so tiny it can be near impossible to get the IV line in. But once she has that good blood in her system, she’s a different child. After 20 minutes the colour is returning to her face and she wants to be off the bed and running around.

Suki Lawson needs regular blood transfusions. Picture: Sickle Cell SocietySuki Lawson needs regular blood transfusions. Picture: Sickle Cell Society

“To people from a Black background, I just want to say ‘please, donate blood.’ You will help secure the future of children and adults with sickle cell who depend on blood - you will save lives.”

NHS Blood and Transplant and SCS are urging people to come forward.

It is estimated fewer than one in 10 of the 4,000 children with sickle cell in England are on the transfusion programme.

Black people are more likely to have the rare blood subtype that many Black sickle cell patients need, but there is an urgent shortage of Black donors putting sufferers at greater risk of potentially life-threatening transfusion reactions.

Suki Lawson has sickle cell disorder. Picture: Sickle Cell SocietySuki Lawson has sickle cell disorder. Picture: Sickle Cell Society

John James, SCS chief executive, said: “We are working hard to ensure we see an increase of Black-heritage blood donors signing up to make a difference.”

To give blood, go to blood.co.uk/


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