“Blood gives life” is probably a catchphrase you have come across. For many people though, it is not a mere phrase but a very real dose of reality.
Who needs blood?
Blood transfusions, or the process of transferring blood from one person to another, are necessary in a number of situations, such as:
• Blood loss – as a result of surgery or accidents, when the volume of blood in the body decreases due to bleeding.
• Anaemia – in some conditions like leukaemia and other blood disorders, healthy red blood cells are not sufficiently made.
• Bleeding disorders – like thrombocytopenia, where there is spontaneous bleeding due to a deficiency in platelets, or haemophilia, where the blood doesn’t clot normally.
“Aside from a small pinch, you will not feel much and the team will monitor your health throughout the one hour appointment.”
How can you become a blood donor?
If you are generally healthy, over the age of 16 and weigh at least 50 kg, you may be eligible to donate blood, says Belinda Smetioukh, spokesperson for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. The Blood Service collects around 1.3 million blood donations each year.
At an appointment with the Blood Service, you will be given a quick health check, then ushered into a comfortable lounge to start the blood donation. Aside from a small pinch, you will not feel much and the team will monitor your health throughout the one hour appointment.
After the session, you will be treated to a mini R&R session with free drinks and snacks. Most people walk out of the centre feeling fulfilled and content in knowing that they may have just saved someone’s life.
“I have so much respect for the wonderful people who selflessly donate and unknowingly save lives of those in need – especially those of children.”
Ariah Malaxos is a 7-year-old girl diagnosed with thalassaemia major, an inherited illness where the body cannot produce sufficient haemoglobin, resulting in anaemia. She needs monthly blood transfusions to ensure her haemoglobin levels are near normal.
Ariah’s mother, Lisa, and the doctors play distraction games to reduce her anxiety on the day of her transfusion, but the experience can still be traumatising.
“Once the port she had surgically inserted in her chest is accessed, the blood is called for from the blood bank. Blood comes up to the ward and is connected,” Lisa explains.
The process takes four hours and Ariah gets a brief reprieve from her symptoms following the transfusion.
Lisa is extremely grateful for those people who generously donate blood to help kids like Ariah.
“I have so much respect for the wonderful people who selflessly donate and unknowingly save lives of those in need – especially those of children,” Lisa says.
“I want to say thank you and may God bless each and every one of them. Your kindness is so very much appreciated.”
More blood donations are always needed
Belinda Smetioukh says that one in three Australians will need blood or blood products in their lifetime, yet only one in 30 donate.
“If more people give blood, then it’s more likely to be there when you or a loved one needs it later,” she says.
Find out more about how to donate blood.