Navy increases lifesaving blood donations

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), CPL Bill Solomou (photographer)

Department of Defence ambassadors to the 2016 Defence Blood Challenge donated plasma to Australian Red Cross in Canberra on Wednesday, 15 June 2016 to support National Blood Donor Week. (L-R) Flight Sergeant Christine Williams, Warrant Officer Class Two Joanne Davey, APS civilian Mr Adam Friederich and Warrant Officer Chris Boardman. (photo: CPL Bill Solomou)
Department of Defence ambassadors to the 2016 Defence Blood Challenge donated plasma to Australian Red Cross in Canberra on Wednesday, 15 June 2016 to support National Blood Donor Week. (L-R) Flight Sergeant Christine Williams, Warrant Officer Class Two Joanne Davey, APS civilian Mr Adam Friederich and Warrant Officer Chris Boardman.

The results of the 2016 Defence Blood Challenge are in, with Navy picking up the honours for highest year-on-year growth, increasing blood donations by a massive 38 per cent.

More than 1,400 Navy personnel rolled up their sleeves over a three-month period late last year to donate blood and plasma to people in urgent need.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service held an event in Canberra on 22 February which recognised groups and organisations that encouraged donations.

Defence personnel throughout 2016 helped save almost 64,000 lives – and have been set the challenge to build on that this year.

Navy’s 2016 Blood Challenge Ambassador, Lieutenant (was Warrant Officer) Chris Boardman, said everyone who took part should be proud.

“Navy personnel, both serving and retired, as well as our family and friends can feel justifiably proud of our 2016 efforts,” Lieutenant Boardman said.

“We rose to the challenge and surprised even the Blood Service with the significant increase over 2015 figures.

“While the Challenge is a great chance to embrace our Defence rivalry for a short period, the need for blood is constant.

“I encourage everybody to continue donating year-round and, more importantly, recruit shipmates, friends and family to become routine blood donors in Navy’s Red25 team.”

Red25 is a campaign by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to deliver 25 percent of Australia’s blood supply though corporate competitions.

On the Navy leader board, HMAS Stirling made the greatest number of donations with 196 recorded. With each donation saving up to three lives, this potentially provided much needed blood products to 588 people.

Russell Offices in Canberra came in second followed by HMA Ships Cairns, Cerberus, Kuttabul and Albatross.

Last year, Navy’s goal was to provide 1,500 donations. While Navy came close to the target, Lieutenant Boardman said Navy can do better.

“I do believe that Navy has much more to give and I look forward to seeing us maintain the momentum we gathered in 2016,” he said.

Lieutenant Boardman has left big shoes to fill with Navy on the lookout for a new Ambassador for the 2017 Challenge.

While the motivating Lieutenant Boardman only started donating in 2016, 21 year donor, Commander Chloe Griggs, said increasing donations was best done through donating plasma and recruiting others.

“You can donate plasma more regularly than whole blood and it is increasingly needed for blood products that assist cancer patients, newborns and people with immune conditions,” Commander Griggs said.

“You can donate plasma as often as every fortnight and it’s sometimes an option that frequent travellers or those who take regular medication can do.”

In 2017, Navy will aim to increase donations again by a double digit percentage, and need help from the entire Navy community to reach this goal.

“All members and Navy veterans can get their family, friends and colleagues to join Navy’s Red25 team to make sure their donations count to the Service,” Commander Griggs said.

“I encourage you to ‘be like Boardy’ and help Navy and the Red Cross Blood Service this year.”

In 2016, Army provided the most overall donations and the Royal Australian Air Force had the highest percentage of donors (7.9 per cent of all members).

The Defence Blood Challenge is an annual event, which runs between September and December. The push for blood and plasma donations sets a friendly competition between Navy, Army, Air Force and Defence civilians, while saving the lives of tens of thousands of people.

To make sure your donations contribute to the Navy tally, join the Navy’s Red25 team at https://www.donateblood.com.au/red25. The Blood Service can advise on suitability for donation by calling 13 14 95.