Seeing a family member battle with cancer and be treated with blood products is the inspiration behind Denise Blayden’s decision to walk into the donor centre every month.
Ms Blayden felt helpless watching her cousin face the disease, but with determination to help in whatever way she could, she found solace knowing her decision to donate would help those fighting similar battles.
And with 18 different medical uses for a single plasma donation, Ms Blayden has now helped thousands of people as she notches up 100 donations during National Blood Donor week.
“When I found out you could donate plasma regularly I would come in every three to four weeks,” Ms Blayden said.
“I knew my cousin wasn’t getting my plasma, but someone was giving it to him, then I was giving it to someone else – the circle would be complete.”
Ms Blayden was told about the upcoming milestone as she walked for her regular donation.
“The last donation I gave, they said, ‘you’re nearly at 100!’, and were really excited about it,” Ms Blayden said.
“I had dinner with my boys the other night, and told them about my donations, and they were really proud of me.”
A staggering 8.5 million people in Australia are eligible to donate but don’t, and it’s something that Red Cross Community Relations Officer Sally Gavin says they’re trying to change.
The Red Cross has recently started texting donors to let them know their blood was used, and at which hospital.
And whilst donors and recipients still remain anonymous, the response to the text messages has been overwhelming positive.
“People realise there is a person there waiting on the receiving end,” Ms Gavin said.
“We started it as a trial to see if it would encourage people to re-book, and it did.
“It’s a special thing and makes donating so much more personal.”
Now is a particularly important time for the Red Cross to get more donations, as the winter months bring about colds and flus that take regular donors out of action.
“Plasma is liquid gold, we can’t get enough. It’s so valuable and beneficial to so many people,” Ms Gavin said.
“Donating is much easier than you think.
“The whole process might take an hour, but it’s a lifetime that you’re giving to someone on the receiving end.”
This year, the Red Cross is celebrating National Blood Donor week with a ‘Bloody Legends’ campaign, to recognise the extraordinary efforts of people like Ms Blayden.
“They are very much part of the family because they are here so frequently,” Ms Gavin said.
“We need to say thank you, for the time and effort.”
Ms Blayden says accompanying a friend or colleague for their first donation makes for an enjoyable experience.
“It makes a connection, and it gets more people involved. You’re out of the office having a chat, which makes it better for everybody,” Ms Blayden said.
Ms Blayden’s message to anyone still wondering if they should donate?
“Give it a go, and see what it’s like. Everyone [at the donor centre] is really friendly.”
To find out more details about making a donation, visit donateblood.com.au or call 13 14 95.