The Australian Red Cross Blood Service has echoed the words of cancer victim Holly Butcher, who penned a letter published after her death that encouraged people to regularly give blood.
In the heartfelt message posted on Ms Butcher’s Facebook page, the 27-year-old said donations had prolonged her life and she asked people to “do a good deed for humanity [and myself] and start regularly donating blood”.
“I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save three lives!” she wrote.
Ms Butcher, who News Corp reported had died of Ewing’s sarcoma, wrote that blood donations allowed her to have an extra year of life.
“A year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life,” she wrote.
Shaun Inguanzo from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service said most blood donations went to cancer patients — largely because chemotherapy destroyed their ability to create their own blood cells.
“A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that road trauma victims are the main users of blood,” he said.
“While they use a lot of blood, road trauma victims only count for around 2 to 3 per cent overall versus cancer patients who are around 34 per cent.
“So, without donated blood many cancer patients wouldn’t be able to make it through that rigorous chemotherapy treatment.”
Every year the blood service collects 1.3 million donations, of which only around 60,000 are repeat donors.
“It would be lovely to see more people come in and not wait for their friends and family to become ill but to become regular blood donors to ensure that enough blood is there for Australians to depend on,” Mr Inguanzo said.
That is not to say that one-off donations do not go a long way.
“Just to show you the power of one single donation, last year we had 455,000 people donate at least once, some more often. Of that, around 180,000 only donated once,” Mr Inguanzo said.
“If those 180,000 people came back and spent just another hour of their time, we would never have to call for blood again.”
Blood banks are usually strapped for donations around long weekends when regular donors are away.
“If you are thinking of adding blood donation to your list of your New Year’s resolutions and you’re looking for a time to make an impact, we would ask that you give whole blood or plasma around Australia Day long weekend,” Mr Inguanzo said.
Things you won’t be thinking of when it’s time to go
In her Facebook post that has been shared more than 17,000 times, Ms Butcher says she did not want to die and was giving “a bit of life advice” on how others can make the most of their lives.
“I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it, and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more,” she wrote.
Facts about donating blood:
- Every week over 25,000 donors are needed around Australia to keep the supply up
- Anyone between 18 and 70 years of age, and feeling healthy, are candidates for blood donation
- It takes around 7 to 10 minutes to donate half a litre of blood
- O negative red cells are the most rare type of blood
- One blood donation can save up to three lives
Source: Australian Red Cross Blood Service
“I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise — be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things … until your body doesn’t allow you to do either of them.”
She also has tips for those who are always late, those who are obsessed with social media and those who complain about their bodies.
“Value other people’s time,” she wrote.
“Don’t keep them waiting because you are shit at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too!
“Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo… enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.
“Appreciate your good health and functioning body — even if it isn’t your ideal size. Look after it.
“Don’t feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life… you might want a mediocre life and that is so OK.”