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Raising pints, not money

290. Sam Roden

A Manchester man who has recruited over 500 people to donate pints of blood after he survived life-threatening pneumonia.

10 Downing Street

Sam Roden was a healthy and extremely fit father of two when he became critically ill with acute pneumonia in March 2012. Within 48 hours of being admitted to hospital, his family were told he might not survive the night. Sam was transferred to the Cardiothoracic Critical Care Unit at The University Hospital of South Manchester, and put on a pioneering ECMO machine – a special machine that oxygenates the blood outside the body so the patient’s lungs can rest and recover.

Over the four weeks Sam was on the Critical Care Unit, he received over 30 units of blood so, when he regained consciousness, he was inspired to give something back to the team that saved him and decided to do something to help promote blood donation. Sam’s ‘Pledge a Pint’ campaign encourages people to donate blood, rather than money, through sponsored runs and sports events.

To support his campaign, Sam raises awareness of blood donation in a variety of ways from speaking at events through to organising his own triathlon. He took part in the 2012 London Marathon, completing it in under three and a half hours – a considerable achievement considering that a year earlier Sam was in intensive care, unable even to walk. Sam’s campaigning has led to hundreds of people signing up to give blood, including MP’s Andy Burnham and Graham Brady and celebrities such as cricketer Andrew Flintoff.

Sam is still determined to do more and he plans to complete an Ironman triathlon and to undertake a 100-mile tandem bike ride with his nine-year-old son. Sam and his wife, Sarah, have also set up the UK’s first patient led support group for adult ECMO patients and their families – ECMO Family Support, which offers support and advice for families going through the trauma of a sudden critical illness.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Thousands of lives are saved every year by blood donations from complete strangers. It is something that no amount of money can replace and Sam has come up with a truly innovative way to drive life-saving blood donations. He has completed incredible challenges to inspire others to give and he truly is a Point of Light.”

Sam said:

“I am thrilled that Pledge a Pint has been recognised in this way – the list of POL winners is inspirational and I am honoured to be alongside them. The ECMO team at University Hospital of South Manchester saved my life, and their care and professionalism was the NHS and humanity at its very best. I know that if it wasn’t for the ECMO team, and the people who took an hour out of their day to donate the blood which I received, I would not be alive today.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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