Donor spotlight: Lifeblood Champion James
We sat down with Lifeblood Champion for St John of God Health Care and milestone donor James to talk about why he loves donating, and how he came to achieving 300 donations with us!
When did you start donating, and why?
I made my first donation in the USA in 1994, while travelling. But my first official local donation was in Armidale (NSW) later that year. And then around 100 plasma donations at Parramatta (NSW) before I moved to Bendigo. I started out doing whole blood when I got here, and I was the first donor to make a plasma donation when they introduced it.
Why do you continue donating?
Because I can - I’m healthy, the right age group, have great veins and it really doesn’t take very long. Plus, I’ve never fainted or even felt woozy. I look forward to it every fortnight. The way I see it, anyone who is as healthy as me should be a blood donor – because not everyone in the world is so lucky. The staff are very caring and professional and make you feel special with every visit, and the snacks and free Wi-Fi are a nice bonus!
What would you say to someone who’s never donated before?
Come for the yummy snacks, but you’ll get hooked on the warm and fuzzy feeling of saving the life of a stranger. They’ll never know you and you’ll never know them, which is about as pure a gift as I can think of.
Do you have any tips for first time donors?
Water, water and more water. I start drinking extra water from about 36 hours before my appointment. I’m a slow donor, compared to others. Probably Australia’s slowest, so I always have a book or my tablet to help pass the time.
Why did you become a Lifeblood Champion?
I work in a hospital, so I see how carefully our nurses handle and administer blood products to patients. It also means as a Lifeblood Champion it’s easy to explain the benefits of blood donations and how they literally save people’s lives. Our staff see it every day.
But we also still want to donate where we can. We have regular reminders in our staff newsletters, on our noticeboards and our intranet. Plus, we have a bit of rivalry within our group of hospitals, and no-one wants to get beaten by the other sites. Not that we’re competitive - much.
What is the best thing about donating?
Saving the life of a stranger, or three. Have I also mentioned the snacks?
Is there anything else you want to say?
I’ve been ticking my donations off against the highest innings in test cricket. Tonight, I’ll go past Don Bradman’s 299 not out versus South Africa in 1932.
Assuming I stay healthy then I’ll need about another five years to reel in the highest ever score - Brian Lara’s 400 not out (versus England in 2004).
After that? Well the highest team total in test cricket is 952 runs, by Sri Lanka v India. It is a very long way away and a bit hard to imagine, but there is nothing to be gained from thinking small. It would be great to get there one day. And if I stay healthy, then I should be able to make it before I reach the donor retirement age.