A Gogglebox star barely survived after developing a rare brain disease… and now his family are doing something amazing every few weeks to show their relief and gratitude.
Shaun Malone was given just a 10 per cent chance of survival when a sinus infection spread to his brain.
The Manchester United coach, who stars in the Channel 4 show alongside his family, was just 15 when he fell seriously ill.
As he fought for his life Shaun underwent surgery seven times, was in a coma for a week and spent six months in hospital.
Shaun’s brush with death had a profound affect on his his family, prompting them to campaign tirelessly to help others.
His dad Tom, 52, has now donated 30 units of platelets and is now urging others to do the same.
Dad-of-four Tom, from Stretford, says he never made the time to donate until his son fell ill, but now believes everyone can find the time to help others.
“When Shaun got ill it was strangers that saved his life,” he said.
“I always thought about and considered donating, but like everyone says I just never got round to doing it until Shaun got ill and received transfusions himself. It was the kick up the proverbial I needed to start donating.
Platelets are tiny cells in your blood which help it to clot. They are frequently used to help patients get through cancer treatment and they are needed by many people with severe injuries or undergoing major surgery.
The Malone family are urging people to donate this autumn – to help ensure lifesaving stocks of platelets stay healthy.
“There are people who are ill all year round, there’s young children, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. Somebody is ill everyday of the week and they all need help, all the time,” said Tom.
Donations rose after the Manchester Arena attacks but Tom – best known for the ever-present plate of biscuits in his lounge – says there is an ongoing need for donations.
Shaun’s mum Julie often joins her husband at the blood donation centre, but cannot donate blood herself.
But lorry driver Tom stresses how important it is for people to go and try donate.
He said: “Donating doesn’t cost anything and saves lives.
“You would do it if your family needed it, so take a step forward and do it now whilst you can.
“I enjoy coming to the donor centre because the staff are excellent and dead funny. I love the text you receive telling you where your donation has gone, it’s a private pat on the back when you receive the text, it’s brilliant.”
For every donation someone makes, a single platelet donor can help three adults or twelve children.
Manchester has two donor centres – Norfolk House, in the city centre, and Plymouth Grove Donor Centre close to Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Manchester needs to recruit two hundred and fifty new platelet donors in 2018 to ensure demand is met.
There is a need for platelet donors from all blood groups, however, donors with the A negative and AB negative blood groups are the most needed as they are ‘universal donors’.
Karen Ackerly, manager at NHS Blood and Transplant at Plymouth Grove, emphasised the need for donations over the autumn.
“Platelets can only be stored for seven days so we need to replace the entire national supply every week,” she said.
“That makes our generous platelet donors, like Tom Malone, very special. They are doing something amazing – helping us to save lives.”
The Malone’s rose to fame on the Channel 4 hit TV series Gogglebox.
They have become well known for their constant supply of biscuits and well trained dogs.
Since joining the show in series four the family have become a huge hit with viewers.
Tom Jr teaches choreography at Studio 25, in the city centre, and has performed in a Black Eyed Peas video and at the MOBO awards.
The family were approached by producers of the hit show at Studio 25 while Julie was helping out on reception.
The housewife previously told the M.E.N that Tom Senior was set against appearing on the programme.
But he changed his mind when Channel 4 bosses promised not to film him in his underpants.
“We explained about the Rottweiler and the staffie but they still wanted us,” said housewife Julie.
“They came over and had a chat, and took a video of us chatting. Three weeks later someone rang and said we like you, and Tom changed his mind.”
The family are often filmed chatting about a range of different shows in the living room of their south Manchester home of 16 years.
Platelet donors must be in good health, aged 17 to 65 if they haven’t donated before, or have given a whole blood donation in the last two years.
Only around half of those assessed are suitable to donate platelets.
Anyone in Greater Manchester interested in donating can call: 0300 123 23 23 or visit platelets.blood.co.uk