Leeds mum’s emotional meeting with rare blood donor who is helping keep her alive

A Leeds mum with a blood disease has been given the chance to meet the donor who has helped keep her alive.

Friday, 4th October 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 2:36 am

Solome Mealin received a transfusion from Zamzam Aba-Nur, who has the same rare blood type. NHS Blood Transplant used its treatment records and its donor database to bring the two together at its Therapeutic Apheresis Services Unit in Leeds where Solome is treated. Solome gave Zamzam an emotional hug and a thank you card from her children, watched by nurses who clapped and wiped away tears.

Solome, aged 39, a mum of three from Burmantofts in Leeds, whose own mother died of sickle cell disease, told Zamzam: “Your blood is coursing through my veins.

“Because of you and blood donation I can have time with my children. I never had a chance to be with my mum. Because of blood donors, I am here watching them grow up. I cannot thank you enough.”

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Solome and Zamzam are supporting NHS Blood and Transplant’s urgent call for black people to register as blood donors to help sickle cell patients. The red blood cells of sickle cell patients form into a sickle or crescent moon shape. These cells can block blood vessels, causing agonising pain, and creating a risk of organ damage, stroke, and death.

Solome, who receives transfusions of eight units of blood every six weeks to reduce the risks, added: “Without blood I suffer horrendous pain, even with morphine. Blood donors like Zamzam are angels sent by God. To people from a black background I just want to say ‘please, donate blood. You will be a lifesaver’.”

Zamzam, 26, a rehabilitation therapist from Old Trafford in Greater Manchester, said: “I started donating when I saw people getting transfusions during placements as a nursing student. It gives me a buzz to get the text message saying where your blood has gone. When you donate, it’s really simple and you just get on with your day – meeting Solome has brought home that it’s actually life changing for someone else. I feel very lucky to have seen how my donations are making a difference.”

People from the same ethnic background are more likely to have the same blood types. The shortage of black blood donors makes it harder to find the best matched blood for black patients.

John James, Chief Executive of the Sickle Cell Society, said: “Blood donors like Zamzam are vital in helping people living with sickle cell to live healthier and less painful lives. We hope this meeting inspires people to start donating blood and helps the public understand the important role they can play in supporting the sickle cell community.”

To register, call 0300 1232323, download the GiveBloodNHS app, or visit blood.co.uk.