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Donate blood to Joely Bear appeal
A brother is urging people to give blood to help keep the memory of his younger sibling alive.
Dan Renak, of Park Crescent, Elstree, lost his four-year-old brother Joel to a rare form of liver cancer 18 years ago.
The youngster, who was diagnosed with the disease exactly a year to the day before his death, was constantly in and out of hospital having operations and blood transfusions.
Mr Renak, who is 24, said: “Whenever Joel was in hospital, my parents used to notice that the nurses were always flustered wondering if there was enough blood for him.
“You would assume a hospital has unlimited supplies but in reality that is not the case, it has to come from somewhere.”
When Joel died in November 1994, his parents, Lisa and Leigh, asked his friends to donate blood and say 'Joel Renak sent me' instead of giving flowers.
But two weeks later, his dad received a phone call from the Edgware Donor Bank saying they were inundated with people wanting to give blood in Joel’s honour.
As a result, the family decided to organise mobile donor sessions called Joely Bear Appeal – a nickname coined by one of the nurses during one of his stays in hospital.
Since the four-monthly sessions were set up in February 1995, over 8,000 people have donated blood and platelets at the events, which also feature free activities for kids.
Mr Renak, whose other siblings are Rachel, 15, and Adam, 19, donated whole blood for the first time at 17, and began donating platelets – or ‘fixing cells’ – at 18.
Donating platelets can take a couple of hours, but whole blood only takes up to 15 minutes.
The marketer added: “I have since donated whole blood 65 times but do not plan on stopping there.
“It is really not that scary. I find it quite relaxing knowing how many people I am helping.
“This is about making sure something good comes out of something bad.”
The next Joely Bear appeal donor session will be held on Sunday, November 11 at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue, Croxdale Road. To book an appointment, visit www.JoelyBear.org.uk.