Donate your blood or bone marrow
About a third of donated blood in Australia is used to help treat people with cancer. Of these people, blood cancers such as leukaemias, lymphomas or myeloma require a significant amount of donated blood for life-saving treatment.
The majority of donated blood is separated at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service into red cells, platelets and plasma.
The average amount of blood products required for treatment of an acute leukaemia patient includes 9 units (250mls/unit) of red cells each month, or 36 units (30mls/unit) of platelets each month.
Each unit is extracted from 470ml of blood, which is an average blood donation. As a result, to treat one patient with acute leukaemia for one month needs 18 people to donate blood. On average, treatment of leukaemias, lymphomas and myeloma lasts for eight months but can last for years.
If you would like to give blood, contact the Australian Red Cross Blood Service on 13 14 95 or visit www.donateblood.com.au.
Register as a Bone Marrow Donor
Siblings are the ideal donors for people who are in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant as they are most likely to have a similar tissue type as the recipient.
However only one person in three will find a matched donor within their family. The other two in three rely on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) or other international registries to find a suitable match.
The ABMDR is a list of people who have registered to donate stem cells to help treat a person with blood cancer. It is linked to a worldwide network of donor registries. By joining the registry, a potential donor may be selected to help anyone with blood cancer in need, anywhere in the world.
Because a person’s tissue type is directly related to his or her ethnic origin, Australia needs donors who reflect many different communities. Without this it becomes difficult to find matched donors of non-European or mixed ethnic backgrounds.
Donors must be between 18 and 45 years of age at registration and in good health. To register, make an appointment to give blood and ask for an ABMDR consent form when you donate. If you match with a patient you will be asked to provide another blood sample at the Blood Service to confirm the match. Counselling will be conducted to assess if you are suitable and willing to proceed to a possible stem cell donation.
Only one in 1000 donors will be asked to donate in any year. Donors are retired from the registry on their 60th birthday.
For more information contact the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry on freecall 13 14 95 or visit www.abmdr.org.au.