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Three Ways to Save Lives in Your Spare Time

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by Helen McDonald (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer in Brisbane, Australia.
Published May 1st 2018
Do you want to do something rewarding, selfless, meaningful and impactful in your spare time? Every day people are in need of priceless donations of blood, plasma, platelets, bone marrow, organs and tissues. One act of kindness on your behalf can change the lives of many.

There are three ways that you can register to donate right now to save lives, today and into the future. Let's look at three simple ways that you can donate:

1) Australian Red Cross Blood Service

Depending on your blood group, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service would greatly appreciate the following:

Blood donations are needed all year round due to supply and storage dynamics. Red blood cells can only be stored for up to six weeks, whereas donors can only give blood every twelve weeks.

Each donation takes approximately 60 minutes from start to finish. About 500mL of blood is taken and from this up to three people can be helped.

Examples of grateful recipients include: trauma and burns victims, cancer sufferers, people with heart and kidney disease, mothers after giving birth, and more.

Red cross blood bank, donate blood, save lives
Red Cross Blood Service Logo taken from Red Cross Blood Service website

Plasma donations are important for treatment of some cancers and serious burns. Plasma products also help people with brain and nerve diseases. In contrast to red blood cells, plasma can be stored for up to a year. The donation process takes 1.5 hours and donations can be made fortnightly.

An interesting note about plasma donation is that process called apheresis is used. During apheresis, your blood is pumped through a machine which extracts the plasma and the rest of your blood is returned to your body.

Platelet donations are precious and highly sought after as they can only be stored for five days. Platelets are important for cancer and leukaemia patients (especially those undergoing chemotherapy treatment and bone marrow transplants). Platelets are also used for trauma victims, during surgeries and for people with liver disease.

The process of apheresis (described above) is also used to extract platelets. The process takes 1.5 hours and donations can be made every two-to-four weeks.

Possibly the best parts about donating with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service are the great feeling of satisfaction you have afterwards, the complimentary snacks and drinks, and the friendly service from the attentive staff.

To find out more about how and where you can donate with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service please look at their website here.

2) Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry

Registering to donate bone marrow or blood stem cells could literally mean the world to one person. Bone marrow donations have the potential to save lives and cure cancer and other blood-related and immune diseases. However, finding a precise match for a bone marrow transplant can be like finding a needle in a hay stack (sometimes, family members aren't a close enough match). This is why registering as a donor is important; you may never be asked to make a donation or you may be the only person who can save the life of another.

When called upon, donations may be via one of two ways: Apheresis (described above) where blood stem cells are taken from the blood (just like blood, plasma and platelets mentioned above); or, bone marrow collection from the pelvic bone under general anaesthetic.

For more information or to register please go to the website here.

Bone marrow donation stem cells save lives cancer
Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry promotional meme from website

3) Donate Life (Organs and Tissue Authority)

Registering to donate organs and tissues when you no longer need them could save up to10 lives. At any given them, around 1,400 Australians are on transplant waiting lists (1).

Did you know that in Australia organ and tissue donation requires you to opt-in? You can even elect which organs and tissues you would like to donate. Registration can be done via the Donate Life website here or through your MyGov online account. Your medicare card details will be required to officially register.

It is very important to discuss with your family if you wish for your organs and tissues to be donated. After all, it is your family who has the final say as to whether your organs will be donated or not. Registering your desire to donate organs and tissues could potentially help your loved ones make life giving decisions during a distressing time when they may be unsure of your final wishes.

Donate Life, donate organs, save lives, transplant
Organ and Tissue Authority promotional meme from website

1) Australian Government Organ and Tissue Authority. 2018. Organ and Tissue Authority. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2018]

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