Fresh blood is like oxygen to Leonie

THE importance of donating blood isn’t lost on Warrnambool woman Leonie Cahill. Her quality of life depends on it. 

Once every three weeks, Mrs Cahill checks into the day stay unit at the Warrnambool Base Hospital and rolls up her sleeve for a blood transfusion. 

Mrs Cahill has a condition that means there isn’t enough oxygenated blood in her system, leaving her short of breath. 

For the past two years, she has been receiving two or three units of fresh red blood cells, a process that can take up to three hours each time. 

“I’ve had well over 100 units in that time,” she said. 

“The thing with my condition is I need fresh blood, less than two weeks old. Blood stored for any longer has too much iron which then can have an effect on my heart and kidneys. 

“I can’t be treated like a normal patient with too much iron, because I need every drop of blood I can get. There is a drug to remove iron but it has nasty side effects.”

Mrs Cahill said the process of a transfusion was a team effort which had been fine tuned over the past two years. 

“I have an appointment with Ian in pathology here on the Monday before my next transfusion. He does all sorts of tests and calls Melbourne to get the blood sent down,” she said. 

“The nurses here do a wonderful job, so it is a big team effort.”

The 66-year-old worked at the base hospital for “many years” but said she had no idea of the processes involved in blood donation. 

“I only need the red blood cells, but nothing from a blood donation is wasted. It’s just amazing what they do with a donation,” she said. 

“Only 19 per cent of all donations are used for conditions like mine, 34 per cent goes to cancer patients. 

“People don’t realise that cancer patients need that much blood. Everyone is happy to give money, which is fantastic, but a blood donation can help so many people, including cancer patients.”

She encouraged people to “roll up their sleeves” and make a donation at the Warrnambool Blood Bank. 

“It’s a quick and easy process. It only takes about three-quarters of an hour,” Mrs Cahill said. 

“I know the Moyne Shire have a group of staff that go in and donate, so wouldn’t it be great if other businesses in the area did the same thing?

“One donation can help so many people, it’s such a simple thing to do.”

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