Australian Red Cross Blood Service calls for more regular donors

HELP: Nicholas Helyer, who donates at the Maitland Donor Centre, is encouraging people to become regular blood donors. Picture: Supplied

HELP: Nicholas Helyer, who donates at the Maitland Donor Centre, is encouraging people to become regular blood donors. Picture: Supplied

It takes just an hour of your time to donate blood and every donation can help save up to three lives

Brian Bruce

WITH almost half of all first-time Aussie blood donors only giving once and not returning, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is calling for people to make donating a regular habit.

Donor legends, like Nicholas Helyer, who donates at the Maitland Donor Centre, are crucial - contributing around a quarter of the nation's blood supplies.

However, Blood Service spokesperson Brian Bruce said the Maitland Donor Centre needs additional donors to join their ranks over the next year.

"These amazing donors can't do it alone. Australia needs a new blood donor every five minutes. We need more people like Nicholas to make blood or plasma donation a regular, life-saving habit," he said.

Blood Service data revealed of the 91,000 Australians who gave blood for the first time in the past 12 months, 43 per cent didn't return to make a second donation.

Mr Helyer was just 17 when he started donating blood after joining the navy.

He has now racked up a whooping 269 donations to date.

"It was made clear to us that on a ship, you're in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from land, you don't have access to a blood bank, so the whole ship becomes the blood blank and you are encouraged to donate," Mr Helyer said.

After leaving the service and with encouragement from his family, Mr Helyer said it was an easy decision to keep on giving.

"My mother was a nurse, my sister was a nurse and my wife was a nurse and they all said if you're healthy... I have been very, very fortunate with my health so it's a no brainer to help people who don't have the same good fortune that I do," he said.

The call for donors to give more often comes in the wake of Blood Service celebrations of National Blood Donor Week.

"National Blood Donor Week is a chance for us to say thank you to all our donors for their generosity and life-saving gifts," Mr Bruce said.

"It takes just an hour of your time to donate blood and every donation can help save up to three lives.

"We collect around 240 blood donations every week at the Maitland Donor Centre, which we couldn't do without the help of our local donors."

To make an appointment or learn more about donating blood or plasma, call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au.

Maitland Donor Centre is located at 39 St Andrews Street, Maitland.

This story 'More regular donors needed' first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.