Roche Legal will not be sending out any Christmas cards this year. Instead, we’ve decided to put those resources towards a donation to an important Blood Bike Charity. Bloodrun EVS is particularly important to our firm as Laura Finegan, our Paralegal, is a Trustee and Vice Chair of the Charity. 

Laura is keen to raise awareness of the incredible work that Bloodrun EVS do. Here is her story:

In February 2013 I was given the devastating news that I had stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma. As a healthy 27-year-old with a 5-year-old son, the news came as an unexpected blow. I was lucky enough to still be in the early stages but, nevertheless, the treatment plan was surgery and 12 grueling rounds of chemotherapy. With a session every 2 weeks for a 6-month period grueling was an understatement!

After a month’s worth of chemotherapy, I was scanned to see how well my cancer was responding to the treatment. After a nerve-wracking 14 day wait, my Doctor called and gave me the incredible news that not only had the treatment worked, but the CANCER HAD GONE! The doctor decided that I should continue with the treatment to give me the best chance of the cancer not returning. Faced with the positive news that my future was no longer uncertain, I continued with my treatment.

It was halfway through the treatment that I became ill. Chemotherapy can’t differentiate between good cells and bad cells, so therefore kills everything! I was slowly losing all immunity and my resistance to infection due to having little to no white blood cells left to fight it. There was a measles outbreak at the time and, although I’d already had it as a child, because I had the level of immunity consistent with a baby, I caught it again. Had I been fit and healthy and able to fight it off it would have caused only relatively mild symptoms. However, because I was severely immunocompromised, I went into neutropenic shock. Neutropenic shock is when your organs start to shut down as a result of infection as you have no white bloods cells to fight it. This is why cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can’t risk exposing themselves to anyone who may be ill, however mildly. 

As my organs were beginning to shut down, I was in desperate need of an urgent blood transfusion, and other blood products, to give me the best chance of survival. Unfortunately, this wasn’t as simple as it sounds and because I was still undergoing chemotherapy, I was unable to have a transfusion of ‘normal blood’. Because I was immunocompromised, any blood that was given to me had to be ‘gamma-irradiated’ in order to clean it and make sure that there was nothing in it that could potentially cause me more harm. This sounds relatively simple but… the hospital I was in didn’t have any! 

When your body goes into neutropenic shock, you have what is called a ‘golden hour’. Essentially, if the Doctors don’t get blood and cells into your body within this time, your organs will fail and you die. The nearest reserve of gamma-irradiated blood was an hour away by car at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. This wouldn’t reach me in time, so the hospital dispatched one of their volunteer blood bikers to collect the blood and bring it down to me. A fellow Blood Bike group brought it down from Newcastle and met the volunteer halfway in order to speed up the process. The blood arrived and was infused into me with 15 minutes to spare – my life was saved! 

I will be forever grateful to those volunteers who gave up their time (in the middle of the night!) to collect and deliver the life-saving blood that I so desperately needed. As a result of this and the amazing work they do, I am now an active volunteer and Vice-Chair of Bloodrun Emergency Volunteer Service (EVS), the group that saved my life, in the hope that I can help save a life like someone selflessly saved mine.

The NHS have their own pathology vehicles that are operational between the hours of 7am and 7pm. After that time, they used to have to call taxis to transport blood and cancer samples to other hospitals for testing, which came at a considerable cost to the NHS. Clearly, that money would be better spent on frontline services so Bloodrun EVS was established in 2010, to provide a free-of-charge and out-of-hours voluntary courier service to North East Hospitals and Trusts. This saves the Hospital Trusts over £100,000 per year. Bloodrun EVS receive no Government or NHS funding: we rely entirely on donations from the public and local businesses. With the ever-increasing need for the NHS to save money without compromising patient care, the demands on the charity grow each year – especially this past year! 

Every year we require almost £25,000 to keep our fleet of bikes and cars operational. These costs include fuel, insurance, tyres and vehicle maintenance. We have not been able to undertake our usual community engagement and fundraising activities this year due to the global crisis, so we are extremely grateful for any donations that we kindly receive from the public.

If you would like to learn more about Bloodrun EVS you can find out here or follow us on Facebook Bloodrun EVS.