By Jackson Russell
Broadford resident Jason McWhinney has given as much as he can to help others, recently making his 300th blood and plasma donation.
Mr McWhinney started donating more than 15 years ago on the encouragement of a mate and the two turned the quarterly donation into a social event, using the time to catch up with one another.
At the time, Mr McWhinney was 10 or 15 donations behind his friend, and it took 15 years before he was able to make up the ground.
“I just kept going down in Melbourne and it’s… pretty much the only time we really caught up because I had kids, he started having kids and things just start getting in the way of what you’re doing, so it was actually more of a social thing,” he said.
Mr McWhinney gives blood or plasma every fortnight when he can, with his partner and children joining in to turn the donations into a family effort.
While blood donations are only allowed every three months, plasma donations can be made every two weeks.
According to Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, a blood donation can help save the lives of up to three people, while plasma donations can be used to make one of 18 different life-giving medicines.
One in three Australians will likely need blood or a blood product in their lifetime, meaning Lifeblood needs to collect about 31,000 blood and plasma donations every week across Australia to meet the needs of patients.
More than a third of all donated blood products are used to help patients undergoing treatment for cancer, while some is used for surgical patients, those in road accidents, and for pregnant women and premature babies.
Mr McWhinney said the positive effects of blood and plasma donations hit especially close to home, with family members having suffered cancer and gone through chemotherapy.
“My father-in-law passed away a couple of years ago now. He had leukaemia so the plasma would go towards him,” he said.
“Whether it was mine or not, who knows? That’s beside the point. But if it can go towards helping somebody, then cool.
“It doesn’t make any difference to me who it goes to as long as it’s giving somebody a shot at life.”
Mr McWhinney stressed the importance of donating blood and said if someone was able to, there was no excuse.
“Just give it a go, don’t think about the needle or anything like that, just think about what you’re doing. You’ve saved three lives,” he said
While his next goal of 350 donations might take another five years and the Australian record of 1173 donations is a long way in the distance, Mr McWhinney said he was hoping to continue donating as long as he could.
“I bump into people who are in their 70s and still doing it so that’s another goal I’ll try and get to,” he said.
“It’s just like second nature really. Obviously, I think about how it’s helped other people, but I just go down, I put a needle in, and get a party pie and a milkshake on the way home.”
Anyone aged between 18 and 75 and feeling well may be able to donate.
Bookings are essential. Call 13 14 95, visit lifeblood.com.au or download the Donate Blood app to book.