“Every two weeks I need two bags of blood”
Amber Walker has relied on fortnightly blood transfusions since being told she had blood cancer for the second time.
After conquering blood cancer three years ago, Amber was devastated to learn that she had another blood disease in April 2020.
“I had been really sick since the previous November and was nauseous or vomiting nearly every day,” explained the 27-year-old.
“They eventually confirmed I hadn’t exactly relapsed, but I had a very similar blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome.”
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS or myelodysplasia) are a group of diseases which all affect the production of normal blood cells in the bone marrow.
Amber has since relied on fortnightly blood transfusions while her medical team determined whether she will need chemotherapy or a transplant.
“Every two weeks I need two bags of blood to keep my red blood cell levels up,” Amber said.
“I definitely notice the difference after having a transfusion. It’s like drinking an energy drink and you feel ready to go again for the week.”
Amber is incredibly grateful for blood donors who have given her a lifeline while she plays the waiting game.
“I’d honestly not be here if it weren’t for all those who donate, it really does save lives,” said Amber.
“I heard on the radio the other day that donated blood only lasts 42 days. That really stuck with me. We’re always going to need more blood because there is no infinite supply.
“You never think about it until you really need it. To anyone considering donating please don’t wait, just go and get it done.
“I’ve even convinced my sister and mum to do it. Their blood may not come to me, but it could save so many others who really need it.
“You just have to think it could be your sister, mum, partner one day – this disease doesn’t discriminate.
“I only wish I had donated more before I got sick.”
In early June 2020, Amber was told she would need a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated matched donor. Again, she will need to rely on the generosity of a stranger to give her a second chance.
“I think this second time around has been harder because I have time to think about it and mull it over,” said Amber.
“I’m so god-damned scared, but I’m equally keen to get it done and get on with my life.”
Until then she will continue to have her fortnightly transfusions, owing her life to the many wonderful Aussies who choose to donate blood.
If you’re 18-76 years old, healthy and weigh over 50kg, you may be able to give blood. Visit donateblood.com.au to see if you’re eligible or to make an appointment.