Home' Defence Magazine : Defence Magazine Issue 2, 2108 Contents 4 Defence Issue 2 2018
By Valessa Basic and
This year’s APS Blood Ambassador
has a bleeding ambition
RIGINALLY signing up to donate for
the associated goodies, this year’s APS
Blood Ambassador, Chris Devoil, now
knows the importance of each and every
“I started donating blood in 2006 encouraged by
my now wife who highlighted the complimentary
milkshake and party pies post donation,” Chris says.
Two children and several health issues in his fami-
ly put the whole process into perspective.
“After the birth of our children in 2009 and 2012,
my wife required a number of transfusions,” he says.
“My son also had a brain tumour removed when
he was 12 months old, which required a number of
surgeries and transfusions.”
But it was his mother’s breast cancer diagnosis
that changed Chris’ focus.
“My mother has fortunately recovered, but it was
her illness that made me aware that plasma is also a
much-needed product and that is one of the main rea-
sons I donate plasma every fortnight now.”
An Assistant Project Officer with Land Systems
Division at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, Chris put
his hand up to be an ambassador because he wanted
to make a difference.
“I hope people are sick of seeing pictures of me
encouraging them to donate,” Chris says.
“Being a current donor and knowing how impor-
tant it is to have adequate blood supplies, I feel my
experience was useful in promoting the Defence
At the finish of the campaign on 8 December,
Defence had exceeded its target of 7500 donations.
“The really pleasing aspect of the challenge has
been the number of new donors we have attracted as
part of the campaign – my hope is they continue to
donate for a number of years,” Chris says.
He has donated 54 times – “eight whole blood, 44
plasma and two platelets, not much when I see those
who have donated more than 500 times”.
He was heartened to see a number of people
across his branch and division roll up their sleeves.
“I sent out a number of emails highlighting the
importance of giving blood and distributed some
‘bloody legend’ stickers after they had donated.
“I also included my Blood Challenge flyer in
various presentations as a reminder that the challenge
His message was to reassure people that donating
was not as hard as people imagined.
“Donating is very relaxing and straightforward,”
“It can take anywhere between 15 minutes and
half an hour, during which you can sit back and
watch TV, read a book or listen to music. It’s not
often we get that quiet time while helping others.
“My fortnightly plasma donation is now part of
my routine so much so that I know a lot of the staff at
the blood centre.”
The ACT Red Cross Community Relations
Officer, Sally Gavin, says the Defence Challenge, in
its 10th year, is vital to boosting blood supplies for
the holiday season.
“The timing of the challenge is very important to
Red Cross. It prepares a lot of product for the very
busy festive and holiday season, helping all those in
need, including hospitals, patients and the community
as a whole,” she says.
Whole blood is the most common donation at Red
Cross Centres. Once collected, it is separated into red
blood cells, plasma and platelets.
Plasma can be used for a variety of treatments,
from immune conditions, haemophilia and burns to
anti-D injections for pregnancy complications, and
shock. Demand for plasma is increasing, with an
exponential growth of 11 per cent needed every year
due to advances in medical research and innovation.
Platelets are a specialised form of donation and
take about 45 minutes to donate. The five-day shelf
life of platelets means the need is constant.
Some cancers and post-medical treatments, like
chemotherapy, can decrease a person’s platelets lev-
els, and internal bleeding can occur if levels become
Defence is part of the Red25 Group, a nationwide
network of organisations with a shared mission to
save lives and provide 25 per cent of Australia’s
“I recognise how important just one donation of
blood or blood by-products can be,” Chris says.
“I was really pleased to be chosen to be an ambas-
sador and I’m willing to do anything to increase the
number of donors within Defence.
“Being the Blood Ambassador also gave me the
opportunity to meet some fantastic people. I spoke to
the Governor of Victoria and her husband, plus I also
got to meet someone in Canberra who needs regular
plasma donations to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Receiving more than 1200 donations in a short
amount of time may have life-changing implications
for individuals and families.
“To those who donated during the challenge, par-
ticularly those who donated for the first time – a mas-
sive thank you for your life-saving contribution.
“To those who were not able to donate, please see
if you can spare an hour to donate. You get a free feed
and one day you may be in a situation where you or a
loved one needs blood.”
The APS Blood Ambassador, Chris Devoil, alongside the Red Cross mascot, Billy the Blood Drop,
are busy recruiting blood donors.
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