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Father of premature baby praises ‘kindness of strangers’ who donated blood

Chris Watson donated blood for the first time after his premature baby daughter Lottie was given five transfusions during her 13-week stay in hospital (SNBTS/PA)
Chris Watson donated blood for the first time after his premature baby daughter Lottie was given five transfusions during her 13-week stay in hospital (SNBTS/PA)

A father whose premature baby needed blood transfusions has told how he has started donating blood in a bid to repay “the kindness of strangers” which helped save his daughter.

Chris Watson, 32, spoke about the importance of the transfusions to his daughter Lottie, who was born three months early on April 21 this year weighing just 1lb 4oz.

Her weight fell to just 1lb 1oz at one point as medics cared for her at Wishaw General Hospital, where she spent the first 13 weeks of her life.

She is now home with her family in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, and Mr Watson said he and his wife Louise, 30, are looking forward to their first Christmas with their daughter – who now weighs 9lb 4oz – and 11-year-old son Carson.

Lottie Watson received five blood transfusions at Wishaw General Hospital (SNBTS/PA)

Mr Watson told Lottie’s story as the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) said it requires almost 10,000 blood and platelet donors to come forward before Christmas to ensure vital supplies are maintained.

He recalled: “Our treasured daughter Lottie was born three months early. Lack of blood flow and loss of amniotic fluid resulted in an early delivery.

“Lottie had stopped growing and had reduced movements – she was delivered just in time.

“Lottie weighed just 1lb 4oz when she was born, which dropped to 1lb 1oz. She was in Wishaw General for 13 weeks and received five blood transfusions.

“We knew she needed a transfusion before the numbers came back from the labs. Her colour would completely drain.

“She was like a whole new baby after her transfusion.”

The Watsons are looking forward to their first Christmas as a family of four (SNBTS/PA)

He said it had “not crossed his mind” to give blood beforehand, but after seeing the difference it made to his daughter he pledged to start donating “as soon as she was well”.

Mr Watson said: “Lottie now weighs 9lb 4oz and has recently started weaning on to solid foods. In September I was able to attend the Wishaw Give Blood session with my wife Louise to give my first ever donation.

“I wanted to give back because if it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers who gave up their time and blood, I wouldn’t have my little girl.”

He thanked the blood donors who “made Lottie’s treatment possible”.

Debbie McNaughton, associate director for donor services at SNBTS, said blood from more than 100 donations goes to newborn babies every month.

She said: “We work with Scottish hospitals carefully to ensure the best blood products are available for all patient groups. An important patient group is premature babies who need specialised products.

“Every month, over 100 donations are manufactured specially for neonates. Baby Lottie will remind people about the need for these essential blood components.

“They will not take a rest over the festive period. Our appointment grids are open, and we need everyone to book their festive appointment now.

“This year, we are particularly asking donors with the blood group O or A to come forward at this point. Demand for these blood groups is expected to be high over the festive period.

“We also need O-negative donors, who are the only donors whose blood group can safely be given to everyone in an emergency situation.

“Christmas Day is on a Monday, which means we must ask donors to come forward early to ensure supplies are at safe levels.

“Peak collection days are normally midweek for blood donors. Platelets have a shelf life of only seven days, and we anticipate donors will be busy the weekend before Christmas.

“It’s very important donors come forward throughout December and into the new year, to ensure Scottish hospitals are well stocked.”