The importance of donating blood and bone marrow

I’m completely hopeless with needles-actually there’s been many times when I’ve almost ducked out of the doctor’s surgery before they gave me the needle. But as a good friend of mine says, the only way to get over the scary things in life is to get in and do them.

I know this is a HR blog but this morning I want to share something with you that I think is important because it’s about people.

Last week my boyfriend’s father was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Essentially it is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He has already started chemotherapy and testing will begin soon for a possible bone marrow match. It’s an aggressive form of leukemia and the doctors are doing everything possible to treat it.


We’ve only spent a few days in the hospital so far but he’s already been given so much plasma, and platelet’s – and then if his brother isn’t a bone marrow match he’ll need to consult the bone marrow registry to see if there’s someone out there who is.

It just made me really think about how vital it is that people donate blood and bone marrow. I’ve only donated blood once (at 24 years of age!), and I’m O negative. This means I can give blood to anyone, but that I can only receive blood from someone with O negative blood. I felt sick thinking about how stupid I was for not donating more sooner just because I am bad with needles- it really has the power to change lives.

A few things to think about:

One in thirty people donate blood- yet one in three will need it
One donation can help save up to three lives
In 2007 in Australia, around 2936 people, including 250 children are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia.
A bone marrow or stem cell transplant is the only possibility of cure for many of these patients.
Donors need to be specifically matched to the patient which can make it very difficult to find a donor for certain patients with rare tissue types.
Only 1 in 1000 donors will be asked to donate for a patient requiring a transplant in any given year.
Siblings are the ideal donors for a patient in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, but only one patient in three will find a matched donor within their family.
The other two in three patients rely on the ABMDR or other international registries to find a suitable match.

Pretty sobering facts to think about. So I guess I just wanted to share this experience with you as I honestly hadn’t really thought enough about this and how I could help. I can’t donate blood until October of this year (because of my tattoo) but when that time comes around I’ll be a regular visitor. In the meantime, I’m thanking everyone who has donated blood because it’s help keeping my boyfriend’s dad alive while he’s receiving chemo.

How can you help?

1) Contact the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and organise for them to come to your workplace so you can donate blood. You can also call them on 13 14 95
2) Think about becoming a donor on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry– it might give you the opportunity to save someone’s life
3) Support those in your workplace who are affected by, or know someone who is seriously ill. A little bit of kindness and support goes along way.


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