The Red Cross has launched two initiatives to encourage people to donate blood as part of National Donor Week.
An SMS alert will now notify a donor when their blood is on its way to a patient in hospital, while a tool kit has been designed to assist staff in identifying and reducing anxiety in first-time donors.
Alyson Pearce, Red Cross director of marketing, said in a press release these initiatives aimed at increasing the frequency of blood donations, with almost half of first-time donors not returning.
“We’re really hoping to improve that by showing what a difference your donation can make almost immediately,” she said.
Red Cross community relations manager Ronny Maroun told The Newsroom the SMS system was still being trialled in NSW but the organisation had received positive feedback.
“It lets people know where their blood is actually going to,” Mr Maroun said.
“I personally hope it’s something we roll out nationwide, to keep everyone informed where their blood products go.”
Mr Maroun said blood donation was vital, especially during the winter.
“We use up to 900 donations every single week to people who are affected by cold and flu, which rule out a lot of our regular donors,” he said.
Lucy Toghill, three-time blood donor and nursing student, understands the importance of donating blood frequently and wants to help those in need.
She told The Newsroom donating blood was a positive experience and volunteers did their best to ensure she was comfortable by giving her lollies so she didn’t get queasy.
“It was a relaxing environment,” she said. “They understand why you might start feeling queasy, they give you lollies, and constantly make sure you’re OK”.
It is estimated that one in three Australians will need blood in their lifetime but only one in 30 Australians donate blood. A single blood donation can save three lives and can be turned into 22 different types of treatments.
David Thomason, former general manager at Meat and Livestock Australia, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome and required multiple blood transfusions. He passed away in 2014. His daughter Edwina Deighton, 36, is passionate about encouraging Australians to give blood. Mrs Deighton and her family set up the foundation Davo’s Bloody Donors, which promotes group blood donations for the Red Cross Foundation on a regular basis.
“We have this really good network of people who had never donated before, who really stepped up to the plate to help continue to raise awareness within Australia,” Mrs Deighton told The Newsroom.
Michelle Bova, 41, has donated five times and is eager to give more.
“We all need to give back wherever we can,” Ms Bova said. “Everyone can make a small difference that can lead to big changes.”
Half a million donors provide the Red Cross with blood each year and one-third of donations treat people with cancer. National Blood Donor week runs from June 12 to 18 and aims to raise awareness and celebrate donors. – by Ashleigh Cant
Image from Red Cross Blood Service.