Navy blood ambassador calls for life-saving donations

Published on LEUT Dave Devlin (author), LSIS Kayla Jackson (photographer)

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

2019 Navy Blood Drive Ambassador Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Personnel JD Byrne at HMAS Albatross. (photo: LSIS Kayla Jackson)
2019 Navy Blood Drive Ambassador Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Personnel JD Byrne at HMAS Albatross.

“Don’t think you will ever need the gift of blood products?

“Neither did many of those recipients whose lives have been saved by these vital donations,” said the 2019 Navy Blood Drive Ambassador, Petty Officer Jaylene ‘JD’ Byrne.

Petty Officer Byrne has been a regular blood donor since 2004, making her first visit to a Red Cross collection centre as part of a team donation with her work colleagues, while serving at Defence Plaza in Sydney.

“I had no reason to roll up my sleeves at the time, it was simply the drive and motivation from my supervisors that led me to the collection centre.

“I soon realised what a fantastic gift this is, to provide someone with a chance to survive or improve their life,” Petty Officer Byrne said.

Petty Officer Byrne joined the Navy from Perth, Western Australia, shortly after graduating from Duncraig Senior High School.

She has had multiple postings at sea and deployed on numerous operations and exercises throughout her 15-year career.

The highlight thus far was representing the Australian Defence Force in Turkey for Anzac Day services as a member of Australia Federation Guard.

Stepping up to the role as Navy’s Blood Drive Ambassador comes with a strong desire to do more and to assist others to decide to donate. 

“With the knowledge that one in three people from all walks of life will benefit from donated blood products throughout their lifetime, is an alarming statistic.

“I am a mother of four children (aged ten, eight, four and three) so those statistics bring the issue very close to heart and home.

“If you are eligible, why not donate? What have you got to lose?

“You have everything to gain from the knowledge that you are helping someone have a better chance of a better life,” she said.

Petty officer Byrne urged Navy members to overcome any fears they might have about giving blood.

“Scared? So are many of the blood recipients! Your courage could change someone’s life!

“I challenge you to stir that conversation with your colleagues, friends and loved ones and find out who’s not donating and why not.

“Ultimately, if you’re eligible, roll up your sleeve and get on board!” she said.

The 2019 Defence Blood Challenge gets underway on 1 September and runs through until 8 December.

It’s Australia’s largest annual blood donation event in support of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Navy members are encouraged to rally their friends and family join the Navy Red25 team.

Details on how to join and book a time to donate blood or plasma in your area are at