BLOOD and platelet donor Joan Atkins has reached a major milestone with her 250th donation.

Joan, who is deputy Mayor of Teignmouth, visits the blood and transplant unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth on average every four weeks where she is hooked up to a machine which collects her platelets.

Now in her 70s, Joan began donating blood as an 18-year-old student during freshers’ week at Exeter University where she studied geography and French.

Since the death of her sister from cancer more than 10 years ago, she has been donating platelets, a procedure which is similar to the reverse of dialysis where the platelets are lifted from her blood.

Joan explained: ‘Donating platelets is not as invasive as giving a pint of blood, it takes about an hour and a half and then I can get up and go.

‘The process is filtering out platelets rather than taking the blood.

‘It is such a worthwhile thing to do, it doesn’t affect me at all but helps so many people.

‘Platelets are used for cancer treatment as well as serious trauma and major accidents and that’s why I do it.’

Joan recalled meeting a young mother who needed 22 pints of blood following the birth of her child to survive at an event to celebrate with other donors who had achieved landmark donations.

She said: ‘We all expect blood to just be there but without people donating, it would be a very different story.

‘Platelets can go all over the country and we do get alerted to where they are being used.

‘I feel it is important to make a difference if you can which is why I am a town councillor and it’s important to put something back.’

Joan has A negative platelets which are universal so can be used on most patitents.

Even during the Covid lockdowns, Joan continued to travel to Derriford to donate, ensuring stocks were available.

She added: ‘I don’t do it for the credit, but because I’ve learnt over the years about the lifesaving work that is done with blood product donations and, while I still can, I will continue to do so.’

Anyone interested can visit to find the nearest donor session and make an appointment.

PICTURED: Cllr Joan Atkins makes her 250th donation of blood and platelets.