Amy McGregor is Armidale’s Red Cross Donor Centre Manager and works with a team of eight staff to provide the region with a safe, happy and positive donation experience. In this interview, Amy tells us why NOW is a good time to donate blood.
Describe a typical day on the job …
Our working day centres around our donors, who voluntarily and so generously give their time, as well as their blood and plasma, to meet the needs of Australia’s health system.
I start the day with a review of the state’s blood and plasma inventory levels, then review our appointments schedule to ensure this reflects what’s needed. If required, I work with our local community relations officer, Tania, to engage our media contacts and local donor groups in a bid to increase our appointments to meet collection needs.
In addition to this, we have daily operational changes, so I review communications to ensure I can provide the team with any updates or training. Then there’s the mammoth task of completing the documentation and administration requirements for every facet of the Centre’s operation.
Whilst the job is a continual challenge to align the right donor, who has the right blood type, into the right donation type, for the right recipient at the right time, it provides me with the chance to work with a dedicated group of locals, staff, volunteers and donors, to make a positive difference to the lives of everyday Australians.
What is the history of Red Cross in Armidale?
The Red Cross Blood Service has operated a collection centre in Armidale for almost 50 years. The Centre has been in various locations throughout the Armidale Hospital during this time, but is currently located off the Butler Street carpark, near the Hydrotherapy Pool.
Why is NOW an important time to give blood?
As we head into October, the Blood Service is preparing for reduced inventory levels, which need increasing to sufficiently meet patient and health system needs. All blood components have a short shelf life, so there is a constant need for blood supply.
The Armidale Centre will need an additional 120 whole blood donations and 65 plasma donations during the coming month.
Who would make a perfect blood donor?
Anyone who is fit and healthy, aged between 16 to 70 years and weighs more than 45 kilograms is eligible to donate. Your blood type helps determine which type of donation is going to provide the maximum use of your blood.
As you can imagine, the blood donation process needs to be conducted under strict and rigorous rules to ensure product, donor and recipient safety is maintained, so there is a thorough documentation and interview process to examine a donor’s medical history, identify any health concerns and assess eligibility against travel and lifestyle patterns – frustratingly, people’s generosity sometimes cannot be accepted due to these restrictions.
Can you give us some examples of how donated blood saves lives?
The majority of blood goes to treat people with cancer, as well as people who have suffered traumatic incidents, burns, or those undergoing surgery. Your plasma, the fluid component of blood, contains important proteins, nutrients and clotting factors which help prevent and stop bleeding. It’s the most versatile component of blood, making 17 life-saving products to treat a volume of patients – the recipients of such generosity are almost endless.
The Blood Service is also active in other areas of the health industry, providing vital services relating to bone marrow, organ and tissue donations, as well as tissue typing for transplants and blood transfusions.
How much time would one need to put aside to donate?
A blood donation takes just one hour, every 12 weeks. A plasma donation can be made as frequently as every 2 weeks; this process is a little longer, but provides the Blood Service with a far more versatile and needed product.
The donation process involves completing a questionnaire to gain insight into your health and wellbeing, a confidential interview, the donation and then a refreshment.
Do you have regular donors?
Armidale’s Donor Centre is very lucky to have the support of a significant number of dedicated blood and plasma donors.
Bryan Johnston has been donating plasma and whole blood at the Armidale Centre for the last ten years; he recently made his 200th donation. Bryan explains his commitment simply, “Giving blood is something so easy, that takes little effort, but it can make such a big difference to someone’s life”.
Whilst such milestone donors contribute remarkably to the health and welfare of so many Australians, even new, first-time and infrequent donors can make a difference.
Armidale’s Donor Centre is also supported by the Blood Service’s ClubRed program – where local businesses, schools and community groups gather people together and regularly donate blood.
Armidale’s Community Relations Officer, Tania, coordinates this program and regularly presents at schools and local businesses to demystify and educate potential donors about the need for blood, general eligbility and donation expectations.
What would you say to a person who is thinking about donating?
Don’t just think about it, do it – you have the ability to save the lives of 3 Australians. One in three people will need blood or blood products in their lifetime, but only 1 in 30 will donate – which group will you be in?
How does one book in?
You can call the Australian Red Cross Blood Service on 13 14 95 to make an appointment.
If you have any queries regarding your health, medication or any recent travel, we encourage you to call in at the Centre, or phone the above number and ask to speak with one of our medical staff.
The Armidale Donor Centre is open Mondays and Tuesdays from noon to 8pm, and Thursdays and Fridays from 8am to 2pm.
This story was published in issue 65 of the New England Focus