Almost 460 lives saved thanks to GMW blood donations

Friday 27 April, 2018
GMW blood donors
GMW blood donors, from left, Jaclyn Cameron, Caryn Crawford, Leanne Davis, Lou Kerrins, Jay Whittaker, Sonya Andrews, Vanessa Guiney and Sheree Fitzgerald.

By work experience student Vali-Rose Waldron

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) staff are making a positive difference – contributing to saving 456 lives in 2017 through their Australian Red Cross blood donations.

This is thanks to 152 donations, many of which were made at Shepparton donation centre throughout last year.

GMW Recreation and Land Strategy Officer Jay Whittaker said the water authority is registered as a ‘Red25’ organisation – a group donation program of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service aimed to fulfill 25 per cent of the total blood donations needed by Australia.

“This means when staff donate it will be registered under the GMW group so we see collectively how many donations we’ve made and for a bit of healthy competition, how we’re tracking against other water authorities and organisations,” Mr Whittaker said.

“We’re proud of the donations we’ve made – it’s timely that we celebrate our success and contribution to our community.

“People have their own reasons for donating blood. For me personally, I found out that some of the donated plasma goes towards the Anti-D program which helps to keep unborn babies healthy. This made a difference when my wife and I were considering children,” he said.

According to the Red Cross, around 17 per cent of Australian women who become pregnant need Anti-D injections to keep their babies healthy. Anti-D can only be made from a special type of donated plasma.

GMW has the highest tally for ‘lives saved’ in comparison to 17 other Victorian water authorities registered as Red25 members. Melbourne Water is estimated to have saved 333 lives and Yarra Valley Water is estimated to have saved 384 lives.

“It’s not a bad effort up against the Melbourne water authorities whose staff have access to a wider range of donation centres with more flexible opening hours,” Mr Whittaker said.

GMW Managing Director Pat Lennon said staff members are entitled to take up to a maximum of three hours of paid leave up to four times a year for the purposes of donating blood.

“We just want to make it as easy as possible for staff to get involved and donate, but in a lot of instances, staff are doing this in their own time, just to give back or for personal reasons because a loved one or friend has needed blood,” Mr Lennon said.

Blood Donation Facts:

  • Whole blood can be used for cancer, blood diseases, anaemia, heart disease, stomach disease, kidney disease, childbirth, operations, blood loss, trauma and burns.
  • Patients can donate blood every 12 weeks as long as they’re fit and healthy and between the ages of 18-70.
  • When a patient is given a blood transfusion, it’s best to be given blood of the same type as their own. If that’s not available there are other blood types called ‘universal’ that can be given to anyone.
  • Everyday more than 5,000 people donate blood.
  • Plasma can be used in 18 different life-giving ways and can last up to one year when frozen.
  • When taking just plasma or platelets, they use a process called apheresis which means they’ll take patients’ blood, separate and keep what they need and give the rest back.*

*Facts sourced from Australian Red Cross Blood Service website.

Vali-Rose Waldron is a Year 10 McGuire College student who completed work experience with GMW during April.