Our dear Birth Matters friend who’s known George since he was a bump….
“During the fight for George journey it became clear Louise is a superwoman ; her strength, energy and determination during such difficult times have been amazing. The fact that as her world was crumbling she was not just thinking of herself, not even just her family but how she could help more widely. The only thing people must not forget is Louise is NOT superhuman, being strong is not easy. Louise has felt exhaustion, fear and alone on her journey at times what is so impressive is she does not complain and she just keeps going. Her latest challenge is immense and I am sure she will be amazing as ever but do not underestimate how hard she will work and what this means to her as she makes it all look (relatively) easy.
Fight for George inspired me to join the bone marrow register and to start to donate blood again but on a more personal level it reminded me to be there for others as none of us know what is around the corner. Louise is inspirational in making sure good comes out of a journey that would knock most people off their feet and leave them broken.”
Our old neighbour, close friend and has known George since he was a bump!
“I’ll never forget the moment you called with news of George’s diagnosis. I thought of you day and night for some time afterwards. How you would cope and how you must of felt. As a mother there is nothing you dread more.
But you were the mother of all mothers and fought with every bone in your body to not only get George through this but to keep your family together and more importantly (which will be the legacy of all this) to a make difference to others and the future diagnosis and care of those that follow.
I know of no other family that could have brought a community together in such a way and that could have made such an impact in such a short space of time. I remember the day Lou told me she was going to personally visit a very large number of GP practices to fight for awareness and early diagnosis while she herself was living the reality of childhood cancer. The positivity that came out of this dark time was truly admirable. By spreading the word and sharing their journey, as friends , family and onlookers we have been compelled to give blood, swab and raise money. We all have busy lives but it is Hero’s like George that inspire us to give blood.
If Lou & Rich hadn’t been so open and let people follow their journey in such a way we would not have stopped and taken the time to make a difference. My husband , Dan , found a clinic in London and took time out of his work life to visit on a number of occasions to give blood and platelets. It wasn’t hard it just took someone special like George to make us see the importance and understand the grave need. It will be the constant reminder that will make us continue to do so. Both of us gave swabs because we were educated on the importance and through seeing George suffer we had to help any parent like Lou and Rich facing a need for such treatment.
George Ferriman will always be a special boy to so many. Cancer is so prolific but childhood cancer (having seen second hand) is the cruellest of all. We have to stand up and make treatment better. No child should suffer like George. His parents are the best people I know for the job. I’m so proud that only a year on and Lou is setting up the charity in George’s name. His experience has and will now continue to make a difference.”
Our close birth friends Dad, who has always given blood…
“The first I knew of George was my daughter on the phone explaining to me that one of her friend’s child had been diagnosed with a form of cancer. The child was born the same time as my daughter’s son, my grandson. We hung up, both in tears and unable to speak further. We could only begin to imagine what it must be like to be given such news. And so I started following #forgetting.
George needed, amongst many other things, plenty of blood.
I love blood. I come across it for work, I have been a blood donor for many years and I even did a photo essay on it for a photography course. I first gave blood on 6th April 1970. I know this ‘cos in those days you got a certificate; I was so proud I still have it!
I was a student at the time and I was challenged by friends to donate. We went as a small group. It’s a good way to start.
After this first donation it was six years to my next! Not that I was put off, but it was difficult to get to the donor session that fitted in with my working life. Still one of the most common reasons people give for not donating / donating regularly.
Donor sessions are typically held throughout the day at donor centres, but some centres offer late night and even weekend sessions. There are also mobile blood collection units, some to public places and some to places of work.
Giving blood is safe, quick and easy. After the first few times it’s even relaxing, an enforced rest in an otherwise hectic world. At the start I gave whole blood, and I believe this is normal practice across the country, but if certain criteria are met you may switch to giving specific blood products. Over time I have given whole blood, plasma and now, platelets. This may depend on where you live and the current demand profile. These things change…
Donating is easy, you just turn up, they do the rest. You need to provide some answers to questions, then you get tested for iron levels, then you get to give blood.
Whole blood takes around 20 mins to collect, platelets typically take twice as long, but maybe up to 80 mins if you’re doing a “triple”. Whole blood includes red cells and your body needs time to replenish them. The current period between donations for whole blood is 12wks for males, 16wks for females. Because with platelets you get your red cells back you can give more frequently. It may be as short as a couple of weeks between sessions but that can reduce your platelet count so more typically 4 weeks.
Visit www.blood.co.uk and you can see “who can give blood”, find out where you can give blood, and book an appointment. Alternatively you can phone 0300 123 23 23.
There are a variety of reasons people don’t or can’t give blood. Some are temporary some are permanent. If you’re under the weather you will almost certainly be asked to “come back later”. If you’ve tried to give blood but have been told you can’t then that’s a shame; but full marks for trying.
For many people going their first donation is the trickiest bit. Going with friends is always more likely to get you there. It isn’t always easy to get there at a time to fit in with work and/or family commitments. Look out also for late night & weekend sessions. Consider mobile units that may be visiting your area, or even visit your workplace.
So the message is, “Don’t delay, start giving blood today”.
Giving blood took on a whole new meaning when I started following Fight for George posts. I went to our donor centre wearing the fight for George T-Shirt to much interest.
Particularly moving were the posts AFTER George had had a set back. During the set back it was news about George and how he was doing. Once George had got through it, the raw emotion of what his parents were going through at the time became apparent.
I can only admire the whole family for the way they have fought and stayed strong.”
Family friend who rallied donor drives, wiggle bag workshops and info sought for blood donations.
“When Louise told me that George was really sick and that the doctors thought it was leukaemia it was almost impossible to take in. He had been such a long-tried for and wanted baby and had brought such joy when he finally turned up that I couldn’t believe fate could be so cruel as to try to take him away again. Like everyone else I wanted to do something, anything, to help him and his family so I started to look for things that I could practically do.
I knew that people with blood cancers needed frequent, life-saving blood transfusions so my first call was to see if we could do something to increase donation sessions in the local area and encourage people to sign up as donors. While investigating that I came across TeamMargot, an awareness campaign linked to a little girl with AML, the same leukaemia as George, who were doing great work to encourage people to sign up as stem cell donors (sometimes called bone marrow donors) because sometimes that is the only lifesaving option available. I found several different ways for people to get on the stem cell register and through a charity called DKMS hosted swab and sign up sessions at school, the cricket club, Rock the Moor, and the JogForGeorge – a fundraising and awareness event organised with my running club. I’m proud that within the first few months of George’s diagnosis I was responsible for adding over 300 people to the donor register.
Another practical thing I could do was make ‘wiggly bags’. When undergoing chemotherapy George had dangling hickman lines to give access to his blood vessels, the ends of these need to be kept safe and dry and a little cloth bag can be worn around the neck to protect them. Louise said they didn’t have any left on George’s ward in hospital so I found out how to make them and organised groups of mums from school to get making them, enough for George and to leave lots on the ward for future patients. It was a simple thing we could do that we knew made a difference right away.
One of the amazing things about living here is the way the community pulls together and I hoped that the local schools could do something to support the family and raise awareness of blood cancers and the need to sign up to the stem cell registry and as a blood or platelet donor. I first spoke to the school George’s sister attends with my sons to see if we could hold a mufti day with a red and white theme to symbolise George’s blood cells, then spoke to the other Cookham schools and nurseries. In the week before St George’s Day every school and nursery child in the Cookhams took part in an event to Fight for George, be it a mufti day, cake sale or toy and book sale.”