Facing fears for fifty donations

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Ainsley Slattery (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Adelaide

Topic(s): Navy Headquarters South Australia, Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Defence Blood Challenge

Royal Australian Navy Petty Officers Kirsty Semmens (left) and Warren Sanders (right) were on board to cheer on fellow Petty Officer Erica Lower (centre) when she made her 50th donation recently at the Regent Blood Donor Centre. (photo: Unknown)
Royal Australian Navy Petty Officers Kirsty Semmens (left) and Warren Sanders (right) were on board to cheer on fellow Petty Officer Erica Lower (centre) when she made her 50th donation recently at the Regent Blood Donor Centre.
Overcoming a fear of needles and blood has allowed one Senior Sailor to become a regular donor of blood and plasma, and recently achieved her 50th donation.
 
Petty Officer Maritime Logistics-Personnel Operations Erica Lower started her blood donation journey back in 2006 after her supervisor, who had a rare blood type, encouraged her to give it a go.
 
“I was hesitant at first, as I had never been able to be around blood or even discuss the subject without feeling squeamish and light-headed,” Petty Officer Lower said.
 
Despite her fears, she successfully donated and has been a regular donor since.
 
“I remember being told at my first donation that only 3 percent of the population donated and the supply could not keep up with demand,” she said.
 
“I soon realised that donating blood is such a worthwhile cause and really doesn’t take much effort on my behalf so I have continued to donate over the past 10 years.”
 
A few years ago, Petty Officer Lower was told she had great veins for donating plasma since then she has been donating plasma on average of every two weeks.
 
“There have been numerous breaks, due to overseas visits, medical reasons and pregnancy; however, I have tried to keep it up as best I can,” she said.
 
“As the mother of three-year-old twins, I am now even more aware of how vital blood and plasma supplies are to this large part of our society.”
 
Donated blood is vital for the high number of premature babies and the numerous medical issues affecting multiple birth pregnancies and newborn babies.
 
“I will definitely continue to donate for as long as I can,” she said.
 
Working at Navy Headquarters-South Australia, Petty Officer Lower has organised a number of group donations over the past few years. She now drives the Defence Blood Challenge in South Australia, motivating many to donate.
 
“I take great pride in encouraging and promoting this event,” she said.
 
“I was very proud of our achievements and donation numbers last year considering we are such a small unit.”
 
This year, Petty Officer Lower has taken on the role once again and managed to time her 50th donation to coincide with the first South Australian donation for the annual Defence Blood Challenge.
 
The Defence Blood Challenge pits Navy, Army, Airforce and the Public Service against each other to strengthen Australia’s blood supplies and to support the Australian community. The event runs for three months between September and December.
 
Friends, families and associates can all contribute to the Navy tally, through registering under then Navy Red25 team with the Blood Service.
 
For more information on the Defence Blood Challenge visit https://www.donateblood.com.au/red25