GRATEFUL: Mick Haggarty holds Luca, left and Ivy, while Ali Haggarty holds Wil, who had a lifesaving blood transfusion. Picture by Dean OslandON the eve of his first birthday little Wil Haggarty was minutes from death and in desperate need of a blood transfusion for a condition few doctors had encountered.

His parents Mick and Ali did not think they would have their baby boy with them this Christmas as his condition rapidly deteriorated before their eyes.

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Wil’s story is one his parents hope will prompt Hunter folk to give blood this Christmas, something the Red Cross is in dire need of over the busy school holiday period.

After a raft of tests to rule out different strains of leukaemia, medical staff at John Hunter Hospital narrowed Wil’s condition down to two possibilities, each affecting just five in 1million children.

Wil is believed to have suffered transient erythroblastopenia of childhood or TEC, a slow-developing anaemia.

Mrs Haggarty said the first sign something was wrong was when Wil started fainting when he was crying.

The night before his first birthday in September, he went a horrible pale green colour,’’ Mrs Haggarty said.

Wil was rushed to John Hunter Hospital where he had a number of blood tests, which showed he had extremely low haemoglobin.

From there it was a process of elimination.

‘‘The next step was a blood transfusion,’’ Mrs Haggarty said.

Last week the Red Cross launched its nationwide Blood Blitz program aimed at bolstering platelet supplies for cancer patients over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.