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Saving lives for the 100th time

Janet has blonde hair and is wearing a yellow t-shirt. She sits in a chair at Lifeblood holding a certificate in her left hand and her right arm is stretched out with a tourniquet.
Janet celebrates donating blood with Lifeblood for the 100th time. Image: Supplied

In Australia, 1 in 3 people will need blood or blood products in their lifetime. It is something that many people don’t think about, but when you need it, you are thanking those who rolled up their sleeves for you.

The staff at Lifeblood Parramatta know Janet Elms-Smith well. The Development Manager at Western’s Nirimba Campus recently sat down in the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood chair for the 100th time, hitting the major milestone after donating blood for 44 years! Starting when she turned 18, she has since only paused her donations when she was living outside of major cities and when she was having children and breastfeeding.

Janet attends Lifeblood on a regular basis. She describes the experience as an inviting and caring environment and has found that the staff will go out of their way to meet her busy schedule to ensure she can continue donating blood, by extending trading hours or opening on weekends.

When asked as to why she donates blood, Janet’s response is altruistic.

“I am the universal donor 0- so my blood is very much in demand. It is used for trauma patients and premature babies and 7% of the population who too are 0- and cannot receive any other blood type. I also donate on behalf of all my friends and family who are not able to donate.”

Janet has currently saved 300 lives. With no signs of stopping soon, she is hoping to hit the 250 milestone mark before retiring.

On top of blood donations, five years ago she began also donating plasma. Plasma can be donated as often as every two weeks and is used for 18 life-saving therapies. According to Janet, “it’s really easy and painless to donate plasma.”

Janet is currently taking part in the Western Sydney University friendly intercampus Who Bleeds Wins Blood Challenge, signing up with the Nirimba and Sydney Olympic Park team.

“What a great way to encourage staff and students to start donating or to donate more regularly!” she says.

Western Sydney University is proud to be part of Lifeblood Teams, the social responsibility program of the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood. Life depends on blood and plasma, so WSU is running the WSU Who Bleeds Wins Blood Challenge to help save 400 lives! The Challenge runs from 1 August to 31 October 2022 and we need your help!

Donate blood during the challenge and register to your respective WSU Campus Lifeblood Team to make your donation count. Simply download the ‘Donate Blood app’ to your mobile device and update your ‘preferences’ to your team. For more information on the Blood Drive visit: https://my.donateblood.com.au/app/challenge/details/challenge_id/36. Janet finds the app easy to use to set and manage appointments.

The challenge is currently in its 8th week, with a total tally of 208 blood donations have been made to Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, saving 624 lives. Campbelltown Campus is currently on top of the leader board, with Penrith and Parramatta closely behind.

Do you want to see your campus be crowned the champions of this year’s challenge? Make sure to register today!