Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 1 2014 Contents By Lauren Norton
Drawing on his
JOE Guarnieri knows first-hand how
someone’s quality of life can be improved
as the result of blood and plasma donation.
Joe benefits from the generosity of more
than 80 donors every day.
Last year’s APS Defence Blood Challenge
ambassador, Joe was diagnosed with the
inherited bleeding condition haemophilia B
as a baby.
“It doesn’t always get diagnosed straight
away but usually gets noticed during
teething or when a child starts to crawl,”
“That’s when it came up for me – Mum
first knew something was up when I was
teething and I just didn’t stop bleeding.”
The Defence Blood Challenge is an annual
event. It pits APS against Army, Navy and
Air Force in a contest to see which group
can contribute the most for the Red Cross
over a three-month period.
Of the record-breaking 4163 donations
made during last year’s challenge, 651 were
recorded for APS, an achievement Joe is
“More donations mean more lives saved
and a secure source of therapeutic blood
products for those that depend on them to
maintain their quality of life,” Joe says.
“This amazing result could not have
been possible without the efforts of the
individuals who assisted by promoting the
event and rallying the troops to donate.
“Congratulations to Army for taking
out the title for another year. It is
wonderful what can be achieved in
the spirit of competition.”
Issue 1 2014
Last year’s APS Defence Blood Challenge ambassador has
good reason to promote the cause because he is a lifelong
sufferer of a serious bleeding condition
Joe has worked for Defence for 20 years,
and says his colleagues were a constant
support throughout the challenge.
“I would like to thank those individuals,
who assisted me, especially my colleagues
in Australian Signals Directorate
who encouraged and supported me
wholeheartedly,” he says.
Haemophilia A and B affect about one in
6000-10,000 males worldwide, with varying
levels of severity.
Joe has a severe form of haemophilia B,
which means his body produces less than
1 per cent of clotting factor (Factor IX)
found naturally in blood that helps to control
bleeding. Because of this, he requires
daily injections of Factor IX concentrate to
replace the clotting factor he is missing –
though that has not always been possible.
“There were stages in my life where I
couldn’t have any blood products,” Joe
“I had antibodies to the product, which
meant my body defended against it and
would reject it.
“Antibodies are fickle things and developing
an antibody is probably one of the biggest
complications for people with haemophilia.”
Joe says these complications are not
always what people expect.
“A lot of people think that I’ll cut myself and
bleed to death, but it’s not like that,” he
“I always think of it like a slowing down
of the clotting mechanisms in the blood
and the issue is really more about internal
bleeding and bleeding into the joints rather
At the time he was diagnosed, treatment
was not available in Australia so Joe sought
treatment in Sweden to get rid of the
“Once I got older and understood more
about the condition I started to question
why I couldn’t have it. So I found out
more information and went overseas and
got a treatment done to get rid of those
antibodies and since then I’ve been able to
have product,” Joe says.
“When I could have blood products for the
first time it was nothing short of a miracle. I
wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that.”
Five years ago Joe’s antibodies started to
“Luckily it hasn’t come back as strong as
when I was a kid and the blood products
still work, but they don’t work as well as
they did,” he says.
“Now I have to take Factor every day
whereas before it was every three days and
“When I could have blood products for the first
time it was nothing short of a miracle. ”
Joe Guarnieri, APS Defence Blood Challenge ambassador for 2013
Navy – 777 donations
Petty Officer Cartrena Skinner (pictured above),
enjoyed being the Navy ambassador for 2013.
“We had a great response and had ships go in as
groups,” she says. “I have had encouragement
from all ranks and personal messages that remind
me that this message is not falling on deaf ears.
Nothing is more valuable than a human life and that
is essentially what this challenge is all about.”
Army – 1648 donations
Frequent donor and Army’s ambassador,
Warrant Officer Class Two Graeme Reynolds
(pictured below left), admires the generosity of
donors throughout the challenge.
“Army personnel and family members have
contributed greatly to the cause and have shown
that we can lead from the front with these kinds of
challenges,” he says. “The gift of life is a precious
commodity and one not to take for granted. To
provide a blood product for people requiring it is
most commendable and honourable.”
Air Force – 1087 donations
Air Force’s blood ambassador, Squadron
Leader Andrew Greaves (pictured below right),
owes his life to donors and is proud of last year’s
“I have been really inspired by the response from all
the personnel that have taken the time to be part of
the challenge,” he says. “Without the efforts of the
coordinators on each base, Air Force would never
have been able to achieve the results we have.”
The 2013 Defence
set a new record
with 4163 donations
an increase of 20
per cent from 2012.
Service results for 2013
Joe Guarnieri, from Intelligence and
Security Group, is this year’s APS
ambassador for the Defence Blood
Challenge. He has haemophilia B and
relies on donations of plasma to ensure he
Photo: Tate Needham, T8photography
Issue 1 2014
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