Identical twins Billy and Ian McCook, who are both 71 years old and from Moray in Scotland, have donated a staggering 503 pints of blood between them over the course of 50 years and may have saved thousands of sick babies, children and adults
Identical twins Billy and Ian McCook have spent more than 50 years donating blood and may have saved thousands of sick babies, children and adults.
The heroic duo are two of the country’s top blood donors, after rolling up their sleeves to give a staggering 503 pints between them.
At 71 the pair who share the same blood group had to wait in a two-hour queue to give their first pints in 1969.
They believe they could be the only twins in Britain to have donated blood for more than half a century.
“I’ll carry on as long as I’m fit and able,” said Billy, a retired caretaker from Moray, Scotland, who recently donated his 250th pint.
“I don’t think anything of it, I just do it.
“I started giving three times a year and then four times a year, and after my 100th pint I started going to give platelets which go to premature babies and cancer patients to thicken the blood.
“There’s nothing to it. Once I’ve given my pint, I forget about it. It’s only when you start talking to other people you realize the good it does.”
The brothers give blood at least three or four times a year. They donate both red blood cells and platelets, with each clot-aiding platelet donation able to help as many as 12 sick babies and children, or three adults.
The NHS in England is 75,000 donors short of what it needs after Covid. We are calling on readers to become a Mirror Blood Hero and register to become a donor.
The twins were just 19 when they first became donors after their late mother, Hetty McCook, who died in 1990, aged 71, needed blood transfusions during several operations.
The twins were just 19 when they gave their first donations)
At that time there were no appointments, donors just turned up and often the brothers would have to wait in a queue of more than two hours before it was their turn.
They did this for many years, before appointments were introduced, not once determined by the lengthy wait.
Grandfather-of-eight Ian, from Aberdeen, said: “You’d sit and move along the bench until you got to the end. There could be 40 to 50 people in the queue. Two hours was nothing to wait.”
Ian’s daughter Lorna, 56, has also donated more than 70 pints.
Jennifer Wilson, of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, said: “It is very special and unusual that twins have donated blood for this long. It is certainly an amazing achievement for these brothers.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Register as a blood donor today. In some areas there are limited appointments so if you can’t find a slot please try again in a few weeks or months.
Visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23 to register and start saving lives.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.