Dawn Thorp - stem cell pioneer and volunteer
In National Volunteer Week from the 9th to 15th of May, the Leukaemia Foundation recognises and thanks the 661 registered volunteers who are the backbone of our organisation and contributed over 55,000 hours to our important work last financial year.
Australian volunteers are essential to the not-for-profit sector and our wonderful volunteers generously donate their time and energy to helping others and supporting our Vision to Cure and Mission to Care by:
· Driving patients to and from treatment centres
· Providing administration assistance
· Maintaining our accommodation centres
· Raising awareness in local communities about the needs of patients with
a blood cancer
· Raising much needed funds to continue our important work.
Committed volunteers like stem cell transplant pioneer, Dawn
One of our valued volunteers is Dawn Thorp, who began supporting the Leukaemia Foundation in 2002 but whose experience with blood cancer spans over 50 years. In 1959, Dawn’s step father passed away from leukaemia, a relatively unknown illness at the time.
A few years earlier, Dawn had begun her career as a general nurse at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) graduating in 1960. In the late 70’s, Dawn was seconded to the Transfusion Service to manage the new technology Apheresis and in 1980 she was asked to collect Stem cells from a patient – a brand new concept at the time. By 1983 she was Clinical Nurse Consultant in charge of the newly opened Haematology Day Centre. The Royal Adelaide Hospital and Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science continued to develop the collection, storage and transfusion of stem cells. Dawn and her staff were pioneers in the collection of the stem cells from both patients and donors and in early 1990’s they became one of the first units in Australia to conduct a stem cell transfusion in the Day Centre.
It was during her time at the day centre that Dawn was contacted by a board member from the Leukaemia Foundation in QLD who asked her to set up a meeting to explore the concept of establishing the Leukaemia Foundation in South Australia. A month or two later she helped to establish a task force and a year later, the Foundation’s courtesy transport program began in Adelaide. Many of the patients Dawn cared for relied on the service to get them to and from their treatment. In 2001, when the time came for Dawn to retire, she decided to give back to the Leukaemia Foundation as a volunteer.
Today, Dawn is a regular every Monday, undertaking a variety of administration duties at the Leukaemia Foundation’s Adelaide office, including collating data for the transport and accommodation services and putting together the volunteer newsletter. She understands the importance of volunteers in organisations like the Leukaemia Foundation.
“It’s vital, quite frankly. The Leukaemia Foundation wouldn’t be able to run without volunteers, particularly the drivers who give up a huge amount of time,” said Dawn.
“I would absolutely recommend it to anyone. Who couldn’t get benefit out of volunteering? It’s a normal part of my life now and I couldn’t imagine not doing it,” she said.
We thank all of the Leukaemia Foundation volunteers who generously give their time to supporting our Vision to Cure and Mission to Care.
Become a volunteer
If you have a few hours to spare a month and want to learn more about how you can volunteer your time to support the Leukaemia Foundation’s important work, please call us on 1800 620 420