Discovering I Have ‘Neo’ Blood: A Personal Account


Hayley Bean has always been proud of her blood donations, especially after discovering her B- blood type is particularly valuable to the NHS as it can be used for newborn babies. During her last donation, she learned her blood was marked as “Neo,” indicating it was suitable for neonatal patients.

Dr. Andy Charlton from NHS Blood and Transplant explained that all donated blood is screened for various diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B, C, and E, and syphilis. Additional tests are conducted to ensure the blood is suitable for patients with specific needs. For example, some patients require blood that has been “washed” to remove proteins that have previously caused allergic reactions.

Blood intended for newborns, immunocompromised patients, pregnant women, or in-utero transfusions must be screened for cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common but potentially harmful virus. Hayley’s blood was found to be free of CMV antibodies, making it safe for these vulnerable patients.

Hayley is one of only 10,916 active donors in England with CMV-free, B- blood. Over the past year, hospitals have requested 153,801 units of CMV-negative blood products. Dr. Charlton emphasized the increasing demand for specialized blood components and encouraged more people to donate.

Hayley’s blood donations have a personal significance as well. Her daughter Willow’s life was saved by a transfusion of CMV-free blood shortly after birth. Hayley had been diagnosed with vasa previa during pregnancy, a dangerous condition where the placenta or umbilical cord’s blood vessels block the birth canal. During Willow’s Caesarean section at 35 weeks, her blood vessels ruptured, causing life-threatening bleeding.

Willow was resuscitated and taken to intensive care, where she received a blood transfusion. Now four years old, Willow is healthy and thriving, with no permanent damage from her traumatic birth. Hayley is deeply grateful to the anonymous donor whose blood saved her daughter’s life.

After her first Neo donation, Hayley received a text informing her which hospital received her blood. She was filled with joy, knowing her donation could potentially save a newborn’s life.

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