Australians respond for Amira
Many blood donors tell us they donate because they want to be a part of the network of givers who help maintain a steady supply of blood, should they one day need it themselves. So when Australians first heard about Amira, who needed a blood type that we didn’t have in supply, they responded in droves.
Back in July, Amira was lying in an Adelaide hospital, waiting for a life-saving surgery — but to have it, she needed 20 units of a blood type so rare that just one in 10,000 people have it.
There are many blood types beyond A, B and O, and Amira has an unusual combination. Her blood cells don’t have several blood type markers that most people do have. To avoid her body recognising transfused blood as foreign, we needed to find blood for her that’s also missing this very specific combination of common markers.
As the story of the 37 year-old mum of two started making its way out into the world, we welcomed thousands of new donors through our doors. Donor centre staff flew around the country and extended their opening hours to help meet the demand.
Meanwhile in labs across Australia, our teams were working around the clock to run additional tests on all A or O blood donations to find a match. We also worked with the International Rare Donor Panel to source compatible blood from overseas.
Ultimately, we gathered more than 20 units of the rare blood needed for Amira. This included eight units from the United Kingdom and France. After Amira had her surgery, her husband Ahmed El Hayes said,
"I can’t describe my happiness to share that Alhamdullah, Amira went through the procedure safely on Friday and now she has started her recovery journey. I can’t find words to thank everyone who supported us during that crisis time even without knowing us…The support given to us from everyone is highly appreciated."
Amira’s plight helped us to raise awareness for two very important elements of maintaining Australia’s bloody supply. First, there’s more to blood types than A, O, and B. To help you get your head around that, we compared blood types with doughnuts.
And second, there’s a growing need for a diverse panel of blood donors, to keep up with the ever-changing needs of Australians.
Amira is just one of thousands of people who need blood and blood products every day. In fact, one blood donation is required every 18 seconds across this country. That means that up to ten donations have been needed whilst you’ve been reading this.
Lifeblood CEO, Stephen Cornelissen recently delivered a heartfelt thanks and an appeal to the new donors who’ve joined the ranks of Lifeblood legends in response to Amira’s story.
“In thanking you for taking the time, can I ask that you also consider becoming a regular donor, and if you can’t donate, you can always spread the word and ask your friends and families to.”
While Amira’s blood requirements are complex, her story shows that ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference to people’s lives by donating blood and plasma — and we all have a role to play.