St. Paul’s High School ‘Blood Drive’ a huge success
Friday 8th November 2013 saw the long awaited blood drive take place in St Paul’s High School Bessbrook.
It was the brainchild of Year 14 student Emma Martin, who said that the inspiration behind her initiative ‘Blood Drive’ was Newry’s Ryan Cinnamond.
The story of 17-year-old Ryan Cinnamond is one of tragedy, bravery and eventual recovery. Back in November 2010, he was another sports-mad teenager, a supremely talented soccer player and Gaelic footballer.
One night, however, he complained of a severe back ache and numbness down his right leg. He went to bed after taking some pain killers, but lay awake restless and in pain most of the night.
The following morning Ryan got up and prepared for school – he had an important GCSE exam that day – but collapsed in agony minutes later, and was rushed to hospital. Vigilant staff at Daisy Hill Hospital suspected a dissecting aortic aneurysm and ordered an emergency CT scan, which confirmed their suspicions.
Ryan was rushed to Belfast City Hospital but en route his aneurysm ruptured, and he had no pulse. Given a 10% chance of survival, Ryan lost an astonishing seven litres of blood during surgery.
The youngster, though, astounded medical staff and survived the first operation, only to be dealt another devastating blow. Doctors broke the news to his family that Ryan would have to have both legs removed – his limbs had died due to a lack of blood supply.
Following a one-month stay in the intensive care unit and several more operations, he finally came home on 20th December but after yet another setback – a blood clot on his right lung – he was admitted to Musgrave Park Hospital in January 2011, where he has been an outpatient ever since.
Emma’s blood drive aimed to replenish the blood supply of the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service in honour of Ryan and to recognise how he has battled and overcame obstacles that others might have succumbed to.
On Friday the response from the pupils and teachers within the school was ‘overwhelming’ according to Emma. From 1:30pm through to the close of the sessions at 8:00pm over 250 people came to take part, many coming from the local area.
Ryan’s father John proudly gave the first donation on what was to be a very emotional day.
A delighted Emma told Newry Times, “A total of 199 people were able to register with 154 actually able to donate blood. Those 45 people who were not able to donate on the day due to having to defer for various reasons will be able to remain on the donor register and be called upon for the next local session.
“There was such an air of excitement and anticipation within the hall as dozens of young people waited in turn to donate what would be their first unit of blood. They were joined by teachers, office staff, parents and people from the local area all waiting to take part.”
Emma admits it was a ‘great disappointment’ that over 50 potential donors, both students from the school and local people who called in to take part, had to leave without having the opportunity to donate blood because of the huge numbers who attended on the day.
She continued, “Students from St Coleman’s College Newry came out to support the event but unfortunately were among those unable to take part. A huge thank you to all these people and apologies to them for them having to leave. Many people waited for over 2 hours to take part and this was greatly appreciated.
“It was a privilege to have members of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service present on the day in recognition of the part they played in saving Ryan’s life. Apologies were recieved from Dr Mick McCann (Consultant in A&E Daisy Hill Hospital) who had been asked to attend but wasn’t able to due to pressures within the A&E department on the day.
“It was recognised by the Cinnamond family that Mr McCann’s expertise in making what was a difficult diagnosis, and the expertise and professionalism of the whole A&E department, ensured that Ryan survived what should have been a fatal illness,” Emma explained.
The campaign was a huge success, Emma stated, with the initial target being more than exceeded. The Blood Transfusion Service were overwhelmed by the turnout and stated it was one of the highest numbers of new young donors they had ever had.
Emma and the Cinnamond family say they are hoping that this will become an annual event within the school with the campaign ethos “Giving is Living” encouraging young people aged from 17 years of age to recognise the gift that their contribution of a unit of blood will make to help save many lives.
Emma added, “It is a humbling fact to realise that the 154 units of blood recieved on Friday will be used within a few days to save or improve someones life.”
Emma would like to thank the Cinnamond and Martin families, Mrs Christine Fearon and her year 13 health and social care class, year 08 students who took part in a competition to name the campaign, pupils, teachers and staff in St Paul’ s for their efforts to donate, St Paul’s caretaking staff, Megan Bradley who worked so hard on the day and all those people who took part in organising and publicising the event.
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