A Leeds woman has inspired hundreds of people across the globe to crack out their knitting needles and raise awareness for blood donation.
Leigh Bowser is unable to give blood due to a heart murmur but after her niece was diagnosed with a rare blood condition Leigh set up a craft project to help.
Leigh’s niece Chloe, who has been diagnosed with diamond blackfan anaemia, must receive blood transfusions every month to keep her alive.
Patients who suffer with the condition fail to replenish their red blood cells properly which causes them to become severely anaemic very quickly. The condition affects only 700 people worldwide and doctors believe there are to be around 125 sufferers in the UK.
Those involved with the project handcraft a blood bag, which Leigh then adds to the collection. Together they have created an alternative art exhibition.
Leigh said: “I want people to learn about this rare condition and encourage them to go out and donate blood. Blood donation is so important to Chloe’s well-being.
“Money donations can’t help her, you can’t buy blood. Blood donation is free and can save so many lives.”
Since it was set up, the project has received bags from both adults and children from as far as Spain, America, Switzerland and Australia.
Leigh said: “I’m amazed at the momentum the project has built up but sometimes, the name gets a negative reaction - people hear the words ‘blood bag’ and have a morbid response. I want people to understand that a blood bag isn’t symbolic of anything bad, it’s a representation of giving life and a second chance.” The next showcase of the project will be an art exhibition at Horsforth’s Walk of Art in July.