Saving lives year after year

What was a seed of an idea back in 2009 between Australian Red Cross Lifeblood and the ADF has now morphed into their longest running donation event.

CAPTION: Lieutenant Commander Katey D’Costa donates blood at the Lifeblood Civic Plasma Donor Centre. Story by Lieutenant Nancy Cotton. Photo by Petty Officer Bradley Darvill.

The Defence Blood Challenge runs annually between September and December, strategically timed to ensure supplies support Lifeblood into Christmas and beyond.

The ACT’s group account manager Sally Gavin has been with the program since it began and said it was just an idea at first, to see how it would take off.

“But did it take off; initially we had 1000 donations. Each year the services have pushed the bar and this year the target has been set at 10,500, which is incredible,” Ms Gavin said.

“It wouldn’t work without the top-down support we have from the service chiefs year after year; it’s just so great to see them putting so much into this.”

Donations are vital to Australians who need lifesaving blood products. One donation can be used to save up to three lives and is why the Defence Blood Challenge is so important.

Although the challenge provides some fun, award-winning rivalry between Navy, Army, Air Force and public service members, with a target of 10,500 donations the real winners are the 31,500 lives that will be saved.

“The challenge that has been a standout for me was our first Navy Day. We all got so into it, changing parts of the donor centre to nautical references to the galley,” Ms Gavin said.

“Photos went up everywhere to give the feel of being on a ship – the staff all dressed the part too.

“That Navy Day in 2018 is our biggest to date, with 161 donations at our Civic plasma centre. It played a significant part in raising awareness of the importance of plasma. From there, it’s grown around the country, inspiring other donor centres to hold record days with a theme.”

Again, this October, Navy members, friends and families took to centres to donate for Navy Day, contributing to the 1.7 million donations needed every year.

For now, the services will continue their donation battle for the Lifeblood Awards, which will be announced in early January next year.

To see if you are eligible to donate blood and save a life, visit





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