The 2018 Defence Blood Challenge has been officially launched at the Civic Plasma Donor Centre in Canberra.
In the ten year history of the Defence Blood Challenge, 38,000 Defence personnel have contributed more than 101,000 donations which have gone towards saving approximately half a million lives.
The three month challenge, running from 1 September to 8 December, is Australia’s largest annual blood donation event in support of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, competitively placing Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence public servants against each other to strengthen Australia’s blood supplies and support the Australian community.
It is the longest running blood drive conducted by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, a measure of the strong collaborative relationship that has been formed over the years.
This year’s launch was conducted by the Executive Director of donor services, Ms Cath Stone and Chief of Air Force, Air Marshall Leo Davies. Also in attendance was Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan and Brigadier Leigh Wilton along with many representatives from across Defence who kick started the tally boards for 2018.
Air Marshall Davies spoke of the importance of blood donation, not just as members of Defence, but also as members of the Australian community.
“We, as members of Defence, deploy on operations and exercises and at times things happen where we need blood,” he said.
“It is also fantastic to see the innovative advances that have been made allowing frozen blood products to be sent overseas.”
In 2017, the Defence Blood Challenge achieved 7351 donations. Air Marshall Davies set the challenge to increase that total in 2018 to at least 7500.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan took the opportunity make his first ever plasma donation during the launch.
“I’m pleased to be out here and leading the challenge for Navy,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
“If you can find the time to donate then do so.
“It doesn’t take long and nothing is more important than helping to save the life of your mates.”
Midshipman Warwick Peart from ADFA has been donating blood products since 2015.
“I’ve donated about 15 times but I only started donating plasma this year,” Midshipman Peart said.
“It makes you feel good knowing that you’re doing something to help others, not only to survive but to help lead a more normal lifestyle.”
“Donating is fun and it’s free, and the milkshakes alone are worth the visit,” he said.
Navy members are encouraged to rally their friends and family join the Navy Red25 team. For Defence members, details on how to join and book time to donate blood or plasma in your area are at https://www.donateblood.com.au/red25/defence