Defence blood challenge launched

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), Mrs Lauren Larking (photographer)

Rear Admiral Jonathon Mead with Petty Officer Chris Ramirez at the 2015 Defence Blood Challenge launch held at Red Cross Canberra Donor Centre in Garran.  (photo: Lauren Larking)
Rear Admiral Jonathon Mead with Petty Officer Chris Ramirez at the 2015 Defence Blood Challenge launch held at Red Cross Canberra Donor Centre in Garran.

Defence has launched a challenge to its personnel to donate enough blood for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to potentially save the lives of more than 18,000 Australians.

The Defence Challenge was launched by Director-General Health Capability, Commodore Elizabeth Rushbrook, and Australian Red Cross Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Williams, at the Red Cross Canberra Donor Centre on 20 August.

Commodore Rushbrook said the annual event challenged Navy, Army and Air Force members and Defence public servants and their friends and family, to compete to make the greatest number of blood donations between 1 September and 8 December.

“Defence personnel last year gave more than 5,400 blood donations, enough to potentially save 16,200 lives,” Commodore Rushbrook said.

“This year we are aiming for even more donations from Defence personnel because Australian Red Cross blood products save lives in the Australian community including ADF members.”

The Australian Defence Force and Red Cross have collaborated over the past three years on the development and supply of frozen blood products for use by Australian troops wounded in combat or injured in accidents while serving overseas.

Lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Jemma Power is Navy’s Blood Ambassador for 2015 and said for those who could  donate, the annual challenge was an opportunity to support the community that supports the Australian Defence Force.

“An hour of my life now and then is a small inconvenience to make such a difference for so many,” she said.

“Each of us may need to receive blood products in the future, so it’s the least we can do to ensure the nation’s blood supply is defended.”

Petty Officer Electronics Technician Chris Ramirez, of HMAS Harman, donated plasma at the launch and said he first started donating 10 years ago because his wife told him he had “excellent veins”.

“I find it very satisfying to give back to an organisation that helps so many others in a truly life-saving way,” Petty Officer Ramirez said.

“I have managed to donate blood and plasma over the last decade whenever I am posted ashore.”

Head Navy Capability Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead represented Chief of Navy at the launch and said he hoped the concept of service to the nation would extend the extra mile this year.

“Navy people serve the country every day at sea and ashore, and I challenge each of us to consider blood donation as part of that service.

“Defending Australia’s blood supply helps every one of us, and our communities, in hours of need,” Rear Admiral Mead said.

This year the Australian Red Cross Blood Service has introduced Red25 as a unique giving program, uniting with groups and organisations around Australia to save lives through blood donation.

Red25 has a clear and concise mission – to achieve 25 per cent of Australia’s blood donations.

Anyone can join the cause. Simply nominate which service you wish your donation to be recorded against.

To register go to www.donateblood.com.au/who-can-give/red25/join-group and don’t forget to nominate for Navy.