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Man (44) who battled coronavirus urges survivors to give blood for potentially life-saving trial

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Darran Jennings taking part in the UK-wide blood plasma trials

Darran Jennings taking part in the UK-wide blood plasma trials

Darran Jennings taking part in the UK-wide blood plasma trials

An east Belfast man who was hospitalised with Covid-19 has urged fellow recovered patients to donate their blood for potentially life-saving medical research.

Darran Jennings (44), from Dundonald, has become the first volunteer here to undergo a blood transfusion procedure as part of UK-wide trials.

Plasma will be extracted from blood samples which will then be analysed for anti-bodies.

It is hoped the convalescent plasma - the yellowish liquid compound of blood that holds the blood cells in suspension - will help treat patients seriously ill with Covid-19.

Mr Jennings, who has two sons, Luke (10) and Ryan (8), urged others like him to come forward to help with this crucial research.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that he was admitted to the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald after taking Covid-19 at the end of March.

"I'm pretty young and relatively fit and I was really surprised how hard it hit," he explained.

"The first three days (of taking Covid-19) I thought it it was the flu; I had sore muscles and aches and pains.

"After that, my aches and pains went away, but my temperature was spiking quite a lot. Then on March 29, my breathing took a hit."

Days later, he was taken to hospital by his wife, Julia where he spent a week being cared for by staff.

"It was a bit a blur and it was a surreal experience, being in hospital," he continued.

"I had been going through self-isolating at home, then at hospital where everybody had the gowns and protective equipment."

The IT worker, who enjoys cycling, said his recovery in hospital had "quite a fast turnaround" and he is now feeling almost completely back to normal.

"It took three or four weeks to get some semblance to normality. Today I'm 99% there," he continued.

Darran said the work being conducted by the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS) is hugely important in the ongoing fight to find effective treatments for Covid-19 - even if a vaccine is eventually developed.

"The plasma is potentially life-saving for patients in hospital with Covid-19. It will kickstart their immune system," he insisted.

"I had no underlying conditions. I wasn't at risk at all in my opinion."

Darran added that he owes everything to the staff at Ulster hospital.

"Without them, it's no exaggeration to say that I wouldn't be here," he added.

The NIBTS is appealing for people like Darran who have tested positive for Covid-19 to come forward to donate blood at its headquarters at Belfast City Hospital.

Health Minister Robin Swann, who recently the site to thank staff and donors for their dedication during the pandemic, welcomed the blood transfusion service's role in the blood plasma trials.

"Northern Ireland plays a key role in world-leading research and I have every hope this treatment will be a major milestone in our fight against this disease," said Mr Swann.

"The selflessness and public spirit that's been so evident across our community during the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing through a number of important clinical trials."

He added: "I want to thank everyone who has stepped forward to help in the battle to defeat Covid-19."

Matt Gillespie, from NIBTS, said those who will participate in their plasma appeal could make a significant contribution to the medical trials.

"This is a real opportunity for people to come forward, donate and to really make a difference to the lives of other people," he insisted.

"Potentially, as with all blood donations, you could be saving someone's life."

Further information about the trial, or to make a blood donation, please log online to: www.nibts.org.

AN east Belfast man who was hospitalised with Covid-19 has urged fellow recovered patients to donate their blood for potentially lifesaving medical research.

Darran Jennings (44) from Dundonald has become the first volunteer here to undergo a blood transfusion procedure as part of UK-wide trials.

Plasma will be extracted from blood samples, which will then be analysed for antibodies.

It is hoped the convalescent plasma - the yellowish liquid compound of blood that holds the blood cells in suspension - will help treat patients seriously ill with Covid-19.

Mr Jennings, who has two sons Luke (10) and Ryan (8), urged others like him to come forward to help with this crucial research.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that he was admitted to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald after contracting the virus at the end of March.

"I'm pretty young and relatively fit and I was really surprised how hard it hit," he explained.

"The first three days I thought it was the flu; I had sore muscles and aches and pains.

"After that my aches and pains went away but my temperature was spiking quite a lot. Then on March 29 my breathing took a hit."

Days later he was taken to hospital by wife Julia, where he spent a week being cared for by staff.

"It was a bit of a blur and it was a surreal experience, being in hospital," he added.

"I had been going through self-isolating at home, then at hospital where everybody had the gowns and protective equipment."

The IT worker, who enjoys cycling, said his recovery in hospital had "quite a fast turnaround" and he is now feeling almost completely back to normal.

"It took three or four weeks to get some semblance of normality," he said.

"Today, I'm 99% there."

Darran said the work being conducted by the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS) is hugely important in the ongoing fight to find effective treatments for Covid-19, even if a vaccine is eventually developed.

"The plasma is potentially lifesaving for patients in hospital with Covid-19," Darran said.

"It will kickstart their immune system. I had no underlying conditions. I wasn't at risk at all, in my opinion."

Darran added that he owes everything to the staff at the Ulster Hospital.

"Without them, it's no exaggeration to say that I wouldn't be here," he added.

The NIBTS is appealing for people like Darran who have tested positive for Covid-19 to come forward to donate blood at its headquarters at Belfast City Hospital.

Health Minister Robin Swann, who recently visited the site to thank staff and donors for their dedication during the pandemic, welcomed the service's part in the blood plasma trials.

"Northern Ireland plays a key role in world-leading research and I have every hope this treatment will be a major milestone in our fight against this disease," said Mr Swann.

"The selflessness and public spirit that's been so evident across our community during the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing through a number of important clinical trials.

"I want to thank everyone who has stepped forward to help in the battle to defeat Covid-19."

Matt Gillespie of the NIBTS said those who will participate in the plasma appeal could make a significant contribution to the medical trials.

"This is a real opportunity for people to come forward, donate and to really make a difference to the lives of other people," he explained.

"Potentially, as with all blood donations, you could be saving someone's life."

Further information about the trial, or to make a blood donation, please go online to: www.nibts.org

Belfast Telegraph