PARENTS of a toddler who has to have blood transfusions every three weeks to stay alive are appealing for more people to give blood this Christmas.

Henry Alderson, from Dovercourt, has just turned three but has already had about 40 blood transfusions.

He was born with a condition called diamond blackfan anaemia - which means he cannot make red blood cells - and is thought to be the only person in the world with another gene mutation, which means he is likely to develop leukaemia or or myelodysplasia.

Dad Craig said “He simply wouldn’t be here without the kindness of strangers to be honest and we’re in their debt really.”

Henry is now in need of a bone marrow transplant so he can produce blood normally.

But, unless Henry deteriorates further, doctors said the risks are too high to have a transplant from a stranger.

A sibling could save his life, but he is an only-child.

So to stay healthy he has to undergo regular blood transfusions at Colchester Hospital.

But NHS Blood and Transplant said last year in the weeks before Christmas a quarter of people cancelled appointments at short notice.

One in ten people just didn’t turn up.

People are being called on to keep their appointments to avoid an even more serious pre-Christmas slump as this year it is feared that forecast bad weather could keep even more donors away.

The Met Office has predicted below average temperatures leading to a greater risk of frost and snow.

Mum Zoe said: “Henry is a cheeky chappie, always on the go, but in the days before his transfusion he turns as pale as a ghost and his energy levels plummet.

“He is now so used to transfusions that he gets excited about going to hospital and happily watches the needle go in. Once the blood works its magic he is full of energy once more.

“Henry’s best chance at a long and healthy life is a bone marrow transplant but for now, we rely on blood donors to keep him alive.

“His transfusions in November and December will mean he can enjoy Christmas.

“It’s him being able to wake up on Christmas morning and celebrate Christmas because other people are literally giving him the opportunity to live by donating their blood so it’s extremely important and we are so grateful for everyone that does.

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who gives blood.”

Mike Stredder, firector of Blood Donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Demand for lifesaving blood doesn’t stop for Christmas. But stock levels can drop dramatically if too many donor appointments go missed or unfilled.

“Each donation can save up to three lives.”

To find out how, when and where to donate blood visit