Roll up your sleeves, and make donating blood or plasma part of your ‘new normal’

Roll up your sleeves, and make donating blood or plasma part of your ‘new normal’

Photo by Monika Berry

Geelong’s Kim Cooper adds a little perspective.

Last month, the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood issued an urgent appeal for 16,000 additional people to give blood or plasma. While all blood and plasma types are needed, Lifeblood’s supplies of O+ and A+ blood had dropped to two days’ supply, meaning stocks of Australia’s two most common blood types were under real pressure.

Thankfully Australian rallied in numbers, lining up to donate – but it’s not over yet. As the nation continues to respond to the pandemic, Lifeblood is seeing fewer donors making appointments and 1,200 donors cancelling or not turning up to their donations every day.

On average, these blood donation centres need one in four people to give blood to cover demand – but currently, only one in 20 people are donating… which is not good! These donations are needed every week across Australia to help patients in times of trauma, major surgery, cancer treatment, pregnancy and a host of other situations. You’ve all surely seen Grey’s Anatomy, you know how crucial blood is!

Around 71% of the Australian population has an O+ or A+ blood type, which means these are also the most commonly used for patients in need.

“The need for blood and blood products never stops so we urge those who can to make blood or plasma donation part of their ‘new normal’,” says Lifeblood Executive Director Cath Stone.

“Even if you don’t know what blood type you have, we still need you – we need all blood types every day.

“Blood donation is essential. Our donor centres are safe to visit, with strict social distancing, cleaning and donor eligibility measures still in place. Only healthy people are eligible to give blood and we have introduced even more stringent wellness checks prior to appointments, including temperature checking,” she said.

So now that we’ve covered how important it is, local singer Kim Cooper is here to deliver some perspective on giving blood, and hopefully encourage others to make a trip to the donor centre.

Giving Blood & Getting Perspective

Recently I put my big girl pants on, faced my fear and did something I have been putting off for pretty much 10 years.

No, I didn’t add up all the money I’ve spent on junk food and alcohol since I’ve been legally able to drink (although I am sure that would be frightening also)…

I went and gave blood. Well, plasma.

Plasma is a part of your blood that can be separated on-site and used to help people 18 different ways including serious burns victims and cancer patients, which is awesome.

For people who haven’t given blood before, you go into a private room to fill out an extensive form related to your lifestyle and health. It was this process that left a bit of an impact on me. In a world where we are bombarded with what is “wrong” with our bodies, it was so refreshing to be confronted with a literal list of all the ways my body is “right”. If I’m honest, it’s not something I think about too often.

As I sat in that Blood Donation consult room and watch as I ticked “No” to so many conditions I’ve never even had to think out. Cancer, blood cots, blood pressure, arthritis, strokes, diabetes, heart conditions… the list went on and on.

A sudden and quite overwhelming sense of gratitude for my body and its current ability to function came over me. I’m not sure the last time you took a moment to thank your body for what it can do rather than beat it up for the things you think it should, but I want to encourage you to do that.

Simply take a slow deep breath, think about all the things it has allowed you to do this week and say thanks. Maybe you’ve been able to work out, sleep through the night, go to work, have sex, read a book, enjoy sport, cook … the list goes on of all the things we as “healthy” people are able to do.

So today, I just want you to take a little break from any usual patterns of negative or ungrateful self talk about your body, and swap it over for gratitude. Because I bet you any money, these are the days you’ll look back on as amazing if your body ever starts giving you more problems than perhaps holding a little more fat than you’d prefer.

So if you can, use your healthy bodies for good, and give blood to those that need it.

If you’re interested in donating blood or plasma, visit Donate Blood and check your eligibility.

Kim Cooper is a local singer in the Geelong region. You can follow Kim’s journey via Instagram.