Blood challenge in home stretch

Published on POIS Phil Cullinan (author and photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, ACT

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

Commander Chloe Wootten donates blood plasma at the Canberra Donor Centre. This was Commander Wootten 100th blood donation to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. (photo: POIS Phil Cullinan)
Commander Chloe Wootten donates blood plasma at the Canberra Donor Centre. This was Commander Wootten 100th blood donation to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

With the potential of saving up to 300 lives, Royal Australian Navy Commander, Chloe Wootten, has reached an amazing milestone of donating blood 100 times for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Blood is vital to life and for many people, blood donors like Commander Wootten are their lifeline. Currently only one in 30 people give blood, but one in three people will need blood in their lifetime.

Commander Wootten is part of the Royal Australian Navy Red 25 team for the Defence Blood Challenge, helping raise much needed stocks for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

The 2015 Defence Blood Challenge started on 1 September and ends on 8 December - the seventh challenge of its kind. It is the Australian Red Cross Blood Services' largest group challenge and targets all Defence members, employees and families.

Many people donate whole blood, but Commander Wootten, who has been donating for over 20 years, donates plasma, because it can be done up to every two weeks.

"My father was a plasma donor, and it was his influence that made me donate for the first time," Commander Wootten said.

"Although I have had significant gaps over the years, being at sea or in a remote location, plus having two children, donation is something I always come back to as it's vital to so many medical procedures and blood products."

Her 100th visit was to the Canberra Donor Centre, and was educational as well as celebratory, as she realised she had been a recipient of one of those life saving products.

"I didn't realise that I had received a blood product that derived from plasma, one that helped both of my children to be born without complications," she said.

Anti-D is a plasma product produced from the blood of selected Rh (D) negative donors. The product is given to pregnant women who are Rh (D) negative to prevent their babies from developing Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn.

Approximately 17% of mothers in Australia will need anti-D injections during each of their pregnancies and after the birth of an Rh (D) positive baby.

A significant proportion of plasma is used for direct transfusion to patients, but the majority of donated plasma is further processed into a number of very important plasma products. These plasma products include immunisations against chicken pox, hepatitis B and tetanus; clotting factors for the treatment of patients with haemophilia; protein products for the treatment of patients with burns, liver and kidney diseases; and immunoglobulin products for the treatment of patients with antibody deficiencies and other disorders of the immune system.

As of 19 November a total of 5,133 donations have been made in the Defence Blood Challenge with Navy personnel rolling up their sleeves almost 800 times.

For more information on donating blood and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, you can visit http://www.donateblood.com.au/ and sign up for the Navy team.