GIVING blood was second nature to Bruce Smith, but he never thought a blood donation would save his life.
Mr Smith started to give blood to the Australian Red Cross at 16 years old and maintained the tradition throughout his life.
Three years ago, he felt the full weight of the importance of donating.
In 2007, he was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, a disease that would have killed him had it not been for many blood and plasma transfusions.
“It took 14 months and 12 rounds of chemotherapy and a stem-cell harvest and stem-cell transplant,” he said.
“I was in such a poor condition they had to give me blood.”
Mr Smith was in remission by November 2008.
“I never thought I would need blood,” he said.
Mr Smith always knew he was doing a good deed each time he offered his arm.
“At the end of it, it helped to save my life,” he said.
“But along the way it’s helped a lot of people.”
National Blood Donor Week starts tomorrow and, while Mr Smith is no longer able to give blood after his diagnosis, he is urging others to help save lives.
The awareness week aims to remind people who haven’t given blood this year that there is a critical need for more donors.
“I encourage everyone, but in particular the younger people, to get involved,” he said.
“It doesn’t take much time, and you never know – it could be your own life you are saving.”
Bundaberg will have numerous events throughout the week to raise awareness for National Blood Donor Week.
A red dress run will take place down the main street, finishing at Hinkler Central on Thursday, followed by a ceremony to mark donors’ milestones on Friday.
Red Cross Blood Service community relations team leader Krystal Lopez said she hoped stories like Mr Smith’s would inspire people to roll up their sleeves.
“Donation levels can drop to critical levels in winter due to colds and flu and we need as many new donors as we can get,” she said.
“You never know when it could be you or a loved one in need of an emergency blood transfusion.”
One in three Australians will need blood in their lifetime, but only one in 30 people donate.
Gary's transplant like a lottery win
GARY Spann likens his kidney transplant seven years ago to winning Lotto.
Mr Spann, 66, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease when he was 27 — but it was no surprise.
His six brothers have all been diagnosed with the same genetic disease and all but one had successful transplants.
His brother Mervyn was not so lucky. He died while waiting for a suitable organ.
Mr Spann said every person could give the gift of life, simply by signing to
become an organ donor.
The Kidney Awareness Campaign starts today with Bundaberg’s Kidney Support Network highlighting the importance of prevention and early detection of
One in three Australians is at risk of developing some form of kidney
As part of the Kidney Support Network’s campaign, free health checks and information will be available at the CBD pavilion from 8.30am to 1.30pm.