Navy blood-letting a life saver

This article has photo gallery Published on Mr James McPherson (author), Mrs Lauren Larking (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Topic(s): Australian Red Cross Blood Service

Australian Army Blood Ambassador Warrant Officer Class Two Joanne Davey, Royal Australian Air Force Blood Ambassador Flight Sergeant Christine Williams, Royal Australian Navy Blood Ambassador Warrant Officer Chris Boardman and Defence Civilian Blood Ambassador Mr Adam Friederich at the 2016 Defence Blood Challenge launch, held at Red Cross Canberra Donor Centre on the 22 August, 2016. (photo: Lauren Larking)
Australian Army Blood Ambassador Warrant Officer Class Two Joanne Davey, Royal Australian Air Force Blood Ambassador Flight Sergeant Christine Williams, Royal Australian Navy Blood Ambassador Warrant Officer Chris Boardman and Defence Civilian Blood Ambassador Mr Adam Friederich at the 2016 Defence Blood Challenge launch, held at Red Cross Canberra Donor Centre on the 22 August, 2016.

The gloves are off and sleeves are rolled up within Defence with the launch of the annual Defence Blood Challenge in support of the Red Cross Blood Service.

Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Ms Shelly Park, launched the challenge in Canberra on 22 August.

The annual push for donations is one of Australia's largest blood drives and sets a friendly competition between Navy, Army, Air Force and Defence civilians to provide the most donations to the Red Cross Blood Service between September and December.

Navy is pulling out all stops this year with the appointment of Warrant Officer Combat Systems Manager Chris Boardman as Navy ambassador and champion. Warrant Officer Boardman had not donated prior to this year and since his first donation, only months ago, has been rallying support for returning and first time donors.

He led the charge with Navy's first donation of the 2016 challenge, a 'liquid gold' or plasma donation as soon as the official launch was complete.

"Navy's goal is to provide 1,500 donations before 8 December, saving up to 4,500 lives," he said.

"Providing a donation takes about an hour and all eligible Navy members and their families can make their donations count towards the Navy Red25 team," Warrant Officer Boardman said.

Navy personnel who can't personally donate are encouraged to grab a friend or family member and be a 'blood buddy' supporting their life-saving donation. Anyone can contribute to the Navy tally by registering online. To make an appointment, and for instructions for how to make your donation count for Navy, visit http://www.donateblood.com.au/defence.

Ms Park said that in 2016, thousands of Defence personnel would provide valuable blood and plasma donations to save the lives of tens of thousands of people.

"Cancer patients, burns victims, emergency surgery recipients, unborn babies and people with blood and autoimmune diseases will benefit from these donations," Ms Park said.

"One in three people will require a blood product at some point in their lives, however only one in thirty donate. 

"Defence are significant supporters of the Blood Service and inspire other organisations through the Defence Blood Challenge."

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, introduced Defence's Blood Ambassadors and explained why the challenge is so critical to Defence.

"Defence members are sometimes subjected to traumatic events that require blood products. It is important for Defence to contribute to the supplier of those products.

"We are part of the community and are committed to the community including protecting Australia's blood supply through the Defence Blood Challenge," Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.

In an attempt to close the gap between the number of donators and recipients, Defence members will compete for a new award, the Service with the highest year over year growth. 

With Warrant Officer Boardman's energy and enthusiam, Navy is in the box seat.