Promoting pumping plasma

This article has photo gallery Published on WO2 Andrew Hetherington (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cairns

Topic(s): HMAS Cairns, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, Defence Blood Challenge

Robert Bateman (photo: UNKNOWn)
Robert Bateman

A desire to help others and a history of donating blood products made Petty Officer Maritime Logistics Chef Rob Bateman a stand-out choice for Navy’s Defence Blood Challenge Ambassador in 2017.
Noting the 38 per cent increase in Navy donations in 2016, Petty Officer Bateman has big shoes to fill, following Lieutenant (then Warrant Officer) Chris Boardman in the role.
Petty Officer Bateman was also a key part of the 2016 effort, encouraging members of the northern Queensland base, HMAS Cairns, to donate blood products. 
“Since July last year, I have been organising volunteer group donations for the base by filling the available vacant appointments at the Cairns Red Cross Blood Service,” Petty Officer Bateman said.
“Then earlier this year my Divisional Officer said she had nominated me for Navy’s 2017 ambassador role and said I’d be good at it.” 
“In June I found out I’d been selected and I was chuffed,” he said.
Petty Officer Bateman said his passion for donating blood products began three-and-a-half years ago.
“Initially I began donating in 2014 after my wife convinced me to. 
“Since then I’ve donated plasma 18 times and blood only once, as I’ve been away with work,” he said.
“In the past, I’ve also had family and friends who have needed blood products for operations and treatments, such as my grandfather and cousin.
“This motivated me to continue donating and it always feels like I’m giving something back,” he said.
After each visit to the blood bank, he feels like he’s helped save a life.
“It gives me the warm and fuzzies and I know I’ve helped someone directly,” he said.
“It’s not something everyone does, and it makes me feel good.”
During his short association with the Red Cross, Petty Officer Bateman has discovered he has a talent for donating plasma.
“I try to donate plasma every two weeks and I tend to recover quickly,” he said.
“I’ve been told by the Red Cross I have good veins.
“I expel the plasma quickly and my best donation time is 37 minutes; the record in Cairns is 36 minutes according to the nurses.
“This year I’m going to try to break the record.”
When he donates plasma he enjoys tracking his visit to the donor centre.
“When I arrive at the Red Cross, I log onto Facebook and check in, linking my location to the Cairns centre,” Petty Officer Bateman said.
“I then put in a small comment like ‘giving all the plasma’.
“I don’t usually put a photo up of myself, but this will change when I donate during the challenge,” he said.
“My family and friends respond well to the posts, and it’s encouraged at least six of them to donate.”
Petty Officer Bateman said he aimed to encourage as many donations from Navy as possible.
“We want this year to also focus on new Navy donors and their friends and family to come forward and donate, not just blood, but also plasma,” he said.
“I am reaching out directly to the community and those who support the Navy for donations as part of our RED25 Navy team, by sending emails to local personnel and businesses affiliated with our base.”
“Everyone who is able to should give, as all it costs is their time to donate.” 
The 2017 Defence Blood Challenge will run from 1 September to 8 December and aims to exceed 7,000 donations. 
This year Navy donors are encouraged to donate more than once by donating plasma.
All group bookings should be made through the National Community Relations Line on 1300 886 524; and individual donors should call the National Contact Centre on 13 14 95. 
An appointment time can also be requested online at