Dad who could bleed to death at any time saved by blood donations

Home Health Dad who could bleed to death at any time saved by blood donations
Dad who could bleed to death at any time saved by blood donations

Sarah Davies Alberto Almeida lying in a hospital bed with his head tilted to the side and his eyes closed, wired up to hospital machines.Sarah Davies

Alberto Almeida’s life has been saved twice because of blood donations

Alberto Almeida treasures every day with his family because he could bleed to death at any moment due to a rare illness.

Donated blood has saved his life twice in the past year, after he suffered severe haemorrhages caused by an inoperable tumour near major arteries.

“The people who deserve medals are the people who give blood, they are the real heroes – and doctors – because they save lives,” said Alberto, of Carmarthenshire.

His family said they want to encourage more people to give blood to save lives like Alberto’s.

The 46-year-old Spaniard moved to Wales with his wife 20 years ago, settled in Carmarthen, and worked as a road worker for the local council.

He led a fit and healthy lifestyle and regularly played football. But in 2022, Alberto became unwell and tests showed he had a rare cancerous tumour growing on his duodenum, which is at the top of the small intestine.

Having wrapped itself around some of his major arteries, medical specialists said it was too dangerous to operate.

In the past year, he suffered two big bleeds, and his family were told to say their goodbyes to him.

“It’s very hard to explain how you feel because your mind goes 100 miles per hour and all your life goes through your mind in seconds,” Alberto said.

“You worry about your family more than yourself.”

Sarah Davies Family photo Sarah Davies

Alberto Almeida says his family’s regular blood donations save lives like his own

His family watched as he lay in a hospital bed, and they prepared for the worst

But as each unit of blood was put back into Alberto’s body, he quickly gained strength and was revived.

“You’re saying goodbye to him and all these things you need to say in the last moments, and then he suddenly starts getting stronger before your eyes,” said his wife Sarah Davies.

“You couldn’t describe it – it’s unbelievable.”

Knowing how vital donated blood has been for the family, Sarah and children Eliott, 21, and Lucia, 17, began donating blood at every opportunity.

Sarah Davies Sarah and her daughter, LuciaSarah Davies

Lucia Almeida (right) prioritised donating her blood over learning to drive once she turned 17

Eliott, 21, said: “We’re lucky that because people have donated blood and it’s allowed him that extra bit of time with us.

“I hadn’t given blood before dad’s diagnosis and him needing blood transfusions, but it’s made me do it as often as I can.”

Most teenagers consider getting driving lessons when they turn 17, but for Lucia the priority was being able to give blood for the first time.

“It’s just 30 minutes out of your day when you’re giving somebody and somebody’s family so much extra time. For me it’s nothing, but for somebody else, it’s everything,” she said.

The Welsh Blood Service called Alberto’s story an example of the importance of blood donations for individuals and their families.

But its medical director, Dr Edwin Massey, said blood services around the world face a huge challenge to meet demand.

In Wales, 100,000 packs of blood are needed every year and Dr Massey said he would “encourage anyone who has been a donor in the past to continue to donate and those who hasn’t donated before”.

Welsh Blood Service laboratory

The Welsh Blood Services’ laboratory near Pontyclun, Rhonda Cynon Taf, tests every blood donation for various diseases including HIV and hepatitis

“Blood components save people’s lives or improve the quality of people’s lives, so it’s essential we’re able to provide enough for the patients of Wales,” he said.

Once the blood has been donated it undergoes a large number of tests including HIV and hepatitis virus tests to ensure it’s safe for patients who will be receiving it.

Last week, blood services, governments and health services across the UK were publicly held to account for the first time for “successive failings” which caused “unacceptable risk” and suffering for tens of thousands of victims of the infected blood scandal between 1970 and 1991.

Dr Massey said the Welsh Blood Service apologised and “took full responsibility” for failings in the past, and governments and health services across were working together “to make sure the mistakes of the past aren’t repeated”.

“The process of donation is very safe, and in terms when somebody comes to donate, they’re asked an extensive number of questions about their own health to ensure it’s safe for them to donate and safe for the recipients if their blood,” he added.

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