Thank you, Madam Speaker.
One of my favourite things to do is to give people gifts. On some occasions, the gift is one that I carefully think about and pick out in order to bring a smile to a loved one’s face. On other occasions, the opportunity to give a gift comes out of the blue, like the day I walked out of the shops with a chocolate bar and felt impressed to offer it to a father in the car park who was clearly having a very difficult day with his kids.
Last month I chose to give the gift of life by making a donation of whole blood to the Australian Red Cross. I don’t know exactly where my donated blood ended up or how it was used, but I do know that blood donation is an essential part of keeping many Australians alive and healthy. In fact, statistics reveal that one in three of us will need blood or blood products in her or his lifetime. Nationally, we require more than 25,000 donations every week, though each donation can save up to three lives.
After my donation, the Red Cross shared with me the story of Jess. After experiencing a burst artery in her stomach, she experienced serious internal bleeding. In fact, by the time she realised it wasn’t just the flu, she had lost fully half of her own blood. Thankfully, doctors were able to save her life, but it required 21 units of whole blood, eight units of plasma, and five units of platelets.
Since her amazing recovery, Jess has been on a mission to encourage her family and friends to donate blood or plasma as frequently as possible. Madam Speaker, I wish to encourage all who can to do the same. Certain safeguards have been put into place to protect the blood supply. But at any given point in time, it is estimated that at least 9 million Australians are eligible to make a donation. Sadly, only three per cent of the total population will actually donate each year.
Here in Canberra, we have a number of options, including a fixed donor centre in Garran. In addition, the mobile blood van makes an appearance here in the City every three months, and the new Civic Plasma Donor Centre is located just a few blocks away from the Assembly in Mort Street.
I encourage all who are eligible to take advantage of one of these opportunities to give the gift of life. For many people the first donation can be somewhat intimidating. I assure you you’ll be fine. For others who have donated in the past but fallen out of the habit, please consider making regular donation a new habit.
I am grateful, Madam Speaker, for the Australian Red Cross’s role in seeking to secure an adequate blood supply. And I am grateful to the women and men who take a few minutes out of their days to give the gift of life. I also thank all those who would generously give if they could. Together, we can let people know that their lives are worth saving.