Navy gets pumped for ADF Blood Challenge

Published on LSIS Lee-Anne Mack (author and photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, ACT

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

Midshipman Kieran Davis donating plasma at the Woden Red Cross Donation Centre, Canberra. (photo: ABIS Lee-Anne Mack)
Midshipman Kieran Davis donating plasma at the Woden Red Cross Donation Centre, Canberra.

This year marks the sixth year of the Australian Defence Force Blood Challenge and the Royal Australian Navy is getting ready to influence, inspire and support its people for a lifesaving cause.

The Defence Blood Challenge is conducted annually from 1 September to 30 November in support of Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Midshipman Kieran Davis, a fourth year engineering student at the Australian Defence Force Academy, is an avid blood donor. He hopes that sharing his blood donation story will inspire others to roll up their sleeves.

Midshipman Davis’s story goes back several years, but he has ramped up his donations since arriving in Canberra to attend ADFA, after being inspired by a fellow student.

Consequently, he made his 14th donation at the Woden Blood Bank on 2June.

“One donation goes a long way towards saving lives,” Midshipman Davis said.

His blood goes an especially long way, because his blood falls into the rare O negative group. Only 9% of Australians have O negative blood. This group can be received by any person from any other blood group. In an emergency situation, when the blood group of the patient is unknown, O negative blood is given. For this reason, people with O negative blood are known as ‘universal donors.’

The Red Cross Blood Service estimates that Midshipman Davis’s 14 donations have saved at least 42 lives.

A passionate donor, Midshipman Davis contributes by giving whole blood, plasma and platelets.

All blood components have a short shelf life, which means the Red Cross Blood Service has a constant need to replenish its blood stocks.

Platelets last up to 5 days. Platelet donation helps patients with low platelet count or non-functioning platelets that are bleeding or at high risk of bleeding. This may occur during high dose chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, major surgery, liver disease or severe trauma. 

Red cells (whole blood) last up to 42 days. The majority of donated whole blood goes to people with cancer, as well as people who have suffered traumatic accidents, burns or those undergoing surgery.

Plasma lasts up to one year. Plasma contains very important proteins, nutrients and clotting factors which help to prevent and stop bleeding. It is the most versatile component of your blood and donated plasma makes up to 18 life-saving products that help patients with trauma, burns and blood diseases.

“I donate because it allows me to help people,” Midshipman Davis said.

“I want to encourage people to do a bit of research and speak to people that donate,” he said.

“It’s a comfortable environment.”

Midshipman Davis is now hoping to take his donating to another level by giving bone marrow. He is currently in the process of registering on the Australian Bone Marrow Register, and hopes to be a match to someone requiring a bone marrow transplant or stem cells.

Sally Gavin from The Australian Red Cross Blood Service said Midshipman Davis was an excellent example.

“The blood service is fortunate to have a blood donor like Kieran, who is able to give all three donation types, being whole blood, plasma and platelets.

“Furthermore, he is willing to donate the right donation type for the right patient at the right time. He is a great ambassador for the Navy in terms of inspiring others to save lives by donating blood,” Ms Gavin said.

With just three months to go until the 2014 iteration of the Australian Defence Force Blood Challenge kicks off, the Royal Australian Navy encourages all Navy people, their friends and family members to register. Donors must register to have their donations count towards the Navy tally. Registrations are open now at - just type ‘Navy’ into the organisation or group field.

The 2014 Australian Defence Force Blood Challenge will be officially launched at the Australian Defence Force Academy on 15 August.

Go Navy!