By Gabriella Payne
An urgent appeal for blood donations from the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Centre last week has sparked a sense of community action, with people banding together to give generously after a difficult year.
When members of the Dandenong Iglesia Ni Cristo Church of Christ heard about the nationwide blood shortage, they saw it as an opportunity to do something good and give back to those in need.
After putting out the call for donors, the Church of Christ was thrilled to see approximately 20 members of their congregation come together on Sunday 22 November at the Ringwood donation centre.
Andrew Fisher, the resident minister of the Dandenong congregation said that it was great to see so many members of the church community roll up their sleeves and give blood together, especially as some had never donated before.
“The first time donors were a little bit nervous,” Mr Fisher said.
“It can be a little daunting and scary, but when you consider the outcome… you know you’ll be able to possibly save someone’s life.”
Mr Fisher said the group were motivated to give blood after hearing about the appeal, to help boost Australia’s blood bank levels and to fulfil their Christian duties and help those in need.
The blood drive was organised as part of the church’s “INCGiving Project” which Mr Fisher said is based on the statement “whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it”, from Proverbs 3:27 GNB in the Bible.
“When you compare a little prick in your arm to possibly saving someone’s life, it’s not much of a sacrifice to make on our part,” he said.
According to Red Cross Lifeblood, this year’s pandemic has meant that fewer donors have been giving blood around the country, with 1200 donors cancelling or not turning up to their appointments every day.
Lifeblood executive director Cath Stone said 31,000 donations are needed every week across Australia, in order to “help patients in times of trauma, major surgery, cancer treatment, pregnancy and a host of other situations”.
“We saw the absolute best of the community throughout the pandemic with donors continuing to come in, however, this recent trend of decreasing appointments and increasing cancellations is concerning,” Ms Stone said.
Donating blood is an essential service and hopefully with the help of community groups like Mr Fisher’s congregation and the easing of restrictions, Lifeblood will begin to see more and more people venturing in to their centres.
Mr Fisher said that for anyone considering donating, he would highly recommend the experience, saying that the staff were “amazing”, all donors were made to “feel really comfortable” and the complimentary post-donation snacks were an added bonus.
The Dandenong Church of Christ are already organising their next group donation, but will have to wait a few weeks first.
“We’re definitely going to make this a regular thing and hopefully we can help out as many people as we can,” Mr Fisher said.
He added that if anyone in the community is thinking of donating for the first time, it might be a good idea to go with a group of friends like his congregation did, so as to not feel “all alone”.
“If there is anything that would encourage you as a first time donor to go, it might be to bring a whole bunch of others with you. You’d be helping by giving more blood and you’d also be helping yourself by having some moral support by your side, to hold your hand if needed,” Mr Fisher said.
For those interested in giving blood, the Red Cross Lifeblood pop-up donor centre will be visiting Dandenong from Monday 7 December to Friday 11 December at the St Mary’s Community Centre on New Street.
Appointments are required. For more information visit www.donateblood.com.au