8 January 2024

Wollongong police present life-saving holiday gift at blood donor centre

| Zoe Cartwright
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A policewoman in uniform sits in a chair with one arm extended, gripping a stress ball, as a woman standing beside her swabs the inside of her elbow.

Constable Charlotte Oliver prepares to make a lifesaving donation in the safe hands of Katelyn Bath. Photo: Zoe Cartwright.

About a dozen police officers descended on the Wollongong Lifeblood Donor Centre on Thursday morning (4 January) with their sleeves rolled up, ready to get to work.

The officers donated valuable blood as part of the annual NSW Police Bleed4Blue campaign, launched after an officer was stabbed in Maroubra on Australia Day 2018.

They hope their donations will inspire others in the community to help save lives by donating blood this holiday season.

Chief Inspector Matthew Glasgow was one of the first-timers on the day.

“It’s always been on the list, but I’ve put it off,” he said.

“I think a lot of people do – only 500,000 people give blood, but 14 million are eligible, so if we can help push that number up a bit today, it’s worth it.

“It’s a very easy process, the staff here are really friendly and I’m told the food is really good.

“It’s basically an hour out of your life that could end up helping someone on the other side of Australia or one of your own family members.”

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Each week, at least 33,000 donations are needed nationwide to meet demand as hospitals manage the increased presentations in areas such as emergency, obstetrics and surgery.

That number spikes over the holiday period with an increase in the number of road and recreational accidents – although trauma patients only use about 2 per cent of donated blood in Australia.

About 34 per cent of donated blood goes towards cancer patients. Other people who need blood products include some women giving birth and those with blood disorders.

For all of these people, their treatment doesn’t stop for public holidays.

Despite the need, donations often drop over summer, as people go away or slip out of their routine.

And with blood products only lasting 42 days after donation, it was easy for stocks to dip dangerously low, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood group account manager Megan Green said.

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“We may be on holidays, but there are still people in hospitals around Australia who need blood products,” she said.

“There are donor centres and mobile centres around Australia, and it would be lovely for everyone who can to give that gift over the holiday period.

“One in three people in their life will need a blood product, but only one in 30 donate.

“Whole blood lasts just 42 days, so if you already donate once a year, even adding one more donation makes a huge difference.”

The Bleed4Blue campaign has generated more than 25,000 blood donations and helped save at least 75,000 lives.

It runs until the end of February and again challenges police officers nationwide to take part, to see which state or territory can donate the most blood.

So far, NSW officers have made 541 donations, including 267 of whole blood, 298 of plasma and 12 of platelets, saving 1623 lives.

For more information on donating, visit https://www.donateblood.com.au/bleed-4-blue.

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