8 September 2023
Personnel have started rolling up their sleeves for this year’s Defence Blood Drive, launched in Canberra on September 1.
Since the challenge started 15 years ago, Defence personnel have contributed more than 85,800 donations, improving the lives of about 257,500 Australians.
This year, the ADF has invited the public to get involved by pledging their donation to a particular service, adding to Defence’s overall goal of 11,000 donations.
Navy donor Chief Petty Officer Chris Ramirez has made 122 donations of blood, plasma and platelets after he was encouraged by his wife to jump on board.
“Donating platelets is a much longer process. They take your blood run it through a centrifuge and take out the platelets as well as some plasma,” Chief Petty Officer Ramirez said.
“It's not like monetary donations; my whole donation will go to helping somebody that needs it.
“It gives me great pleasure knowing I can contribute to society by making a difference for somebody, somewhere.”
Lifeblood needs 33,000 donations each week to meet demand, with 18,000 of those being plasma.
Plasma donations are used to create 18 different treatments for more than 50 medical conditions.
Whole blood can be donated every 12 weeks, with one donation saving up to three lives. Thirty per cent of donated blood products go towards cancer and blood disease.
Flight Lieutenant Katherine Mitchell, a pilot who donates plasma once a month, said she would do it more if it weren’t for restrictions on aircrew.
“I am young, healthy and relatively fit and I have the opportunity to donate. I feel like it's something that everyone should do when they can, and if they can,” Flight Lieutenant Mitchell said.
“I'd like to think that someone would be there for me if I ever needed it.
“It's just a nice thing to do; it gives a little bit of a warm and fuzzy.”
As of mid-2022, people who lived in the United Kingdom during the ‘mad cow disease’ outbreak can to donate blood in Australia.
Lieutenant Colonel Adam Kavanagh transferred from the UK forces to the ADF in 2008, and had to wait for the restrictions to lift before donating.
“I know from my unit that there's a few British people have already started giving blood since they've been able to,” Lieutenant Colonel Kavanagh said.
“There's free party pies when you finish doing it, and drinks. You are brought a milkshake when you're doing it. It's quite nice.
“On the donate blood app you get notified how far your donation has gone and how many people it has gone to.”
People who have received tattoos can now donate whole blood seven days post ink and plasma immediately.
The Lifeblood Mobile Donor Centre will be visiting Defence bases throughout the blood drive.
The drive will run from September 1 to December 8. To register visit www.lifeblood.com.au