Newcastle Blood service urgently needs more donors between Christmas and New Year

Grateful: It takes 191 blood donations a fortnight to keep Austin Cummins safe, his mother, Francina Cummins, says. Picture: Max Mason-HubersFRANCINA Cummins tends to dreadthis time of year, when the blood service puts increasingly desperatecalls outurgingpeople to help address the short supplies betweenChristmas and the new year.

Without the gift of blood donations, the Hunter Valleyresident saidshe would not have the privilege of tucking her three-year-old son, Austin, into bed each night.

He would not have survived without them.

Austin was diagnosed with severehemophilia as a newborn. Ever since, he has required blood productsto keep him safe and well.

“Austin is on a drug called Biostate now, which he has to have every second day at John Hunter Hospital,” Ms Cummins said.

“They need 12 plasma donations, or 27.4 blood donations, to make one dose. Because it requires an enormous amount of donationsto make a single dose, I do tend to get a little bit scared at this time of year, when they have to put the call out for more people to come forward to donate.”

As Austin grows, he will need higher doses, requiring even more blood and plasma donations.

“The drugs made from the blood donations arepretty much what keeps him safe, what keeps himfrom having spontaneous bleeds,”Ms Cummins said.

“And that’s just his standard treatment. If he has any kind of trauma, or an accident, he would need more.

“So as soon as I hear that the supplies are down, it is always a big fear of minethat if there is trauma and he needs a full blood transfusion, is it going to be at the hospital for us?”

Ms Cummins urged people to donate blood throughout the holiday break.

“You just never appreciate what a gift it is until you, or someone you love, desperately needs it,” she said.

“For a donor, it’s just an hour of their time, sitting in a comfy chair and enjoying free refreshments afterwards. But to Austin and us, that generous hour represents a lifetime we otherwise wouldn’t have.”

The Newcastle Blood Donor Centre will be open from 8am to 2pm throughout the holidays, only closing on Christmasand New Year’s Day.