Unions for transfusions

Brett Holmes, NSWNA General Secretary, at centre of a group of unionists at the launch of Unions for Transfusions.

Every donation of blood helps to save the lives of up to three people, according to the Australian Red Cross.

In a bid to boost blood bank reserves, the Red Cross Blood Service and Unions NSW have launched a new campaign urging almost 700,000 union members to give blood during the next 12 months.

NSWNA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, attended the launch of Unions for Transfusions and spoke about the importance of giving blood.

“It’s easy and only takes an hour of your time,” Brett said. “It’s important to know that it is not only road trauma victims who require blood. Blood helps cancer patients, people undergoing emergency surgery, burns victims and those on renal dialysis.”

In the Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) haematology ward, almost a third of patients receiving treatment for serious illnesses, including cancer, need some type of blood product to aid their recovery.

RPA Clinical Nurse Specialist, Eleanor Romney, told The Lamp that they would be unable to treat or cure cancer patients without blood transfusions, as high dose chemotherapy is only possible if patients have support during recovery.

“In haematology, blood products are needed to support patients after chemotherapy while awaiting the recovery of their bone marrow,” the RN said.

Eleanor says the transfusions are used to boost blood counts in cancer patients who need invasive interventions.

“Administering blood products is a core element of the care we give to our patients – not a day would go by without at least one of our patients having some form of transfusion,” she said.

Eleanor says blood transfusions also provide cancer patients with symptomatic relief from the effects of their diseases, while supporting other patients after having stem cell transplants.

“On a regular basis I see how important it is for people to donate blood. It makes a huge difference to patients’ lives.”

The Red Cross Blood Service predicts that the demand for blood and blood products will rise 100% during the next 10 years. A third of Australians will have need of donated blood or blood products at some stage in their life.

“At some point in most of our lives, a person you love will benefit from the incredible gift of another’s blood donation,” said Eleanor.

“I think that donating blood is a truly altruistic action – you are doing something that can literally save someone’s life or help them receive the treatment they need to fight cancer. And you do it for someone you’ll probably never know.”

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