The mother of Ballyclare leukaemia sufferer Ross Patterson says she wept “tears of joy” at the turnout for the recent blood donation session.
Since her son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in February 2014, Claire Patterson and her husband David have organised two blood donation drives as well as numerous fundraising events in aid of Clic Sargent and the Northern Ireland Children’s Cancer Unit fund.
At the most recent blood drive, held at Ballyclare’s Sixmile Leisure Centre on Friday, 114 people attended and 87 people gave blood. Claire said: “It’s a great result. We have enjoyed big support from the community. The nurses told us there were a lot of first-time blood donors and a lot of people coming again, which is exactly what people need to keep doing.
“Many people came who had never donated before, and there were people who hadn’t given blood in twenty years but had made a New Year’s resolution to do it, and it worked.”
Claire says that donors at the session were encouraged when Ross himself turned out to thank them, showing first hand that blood donation saves lives. Friday was particularly busy for the Patterson family, as Ross had the long-awaited procedure to remove his central line, which had been used to administer chemotherapy, that morning.
Claire continued: “The line was taken out and we said goodbye to the children’s cancer ward as we hope he will not have to go back there again. It was very poignant. You could see that some kids were just setting out on the journey, which shows how important it is to keep supporting the ward. I think it gives hope to other families to see the nurses saying they won’t have to see Ross again. ”
The Children’s Cancer Charity also received a £3,000 boost in the form of the “Race for Ross” three-hour go-kart race, organised by Gary Agnew. Among those who took part were racing supremos Alastair Seeley, Jamie Hamilton and Martin Barr. A further £1,000 was raised by Sharon Curlett through a fundraising skydive.
Claire says that Ross was particularly pleased to be able to visit the hairdresser’s for the first time at the weekend after his hair grew back.
“It’s so emotional,” she admitted. “It’s a real milestone. He’s coming back to being his old self again.”