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Every day, 41 Aussies are diagnosed with a form of blood cancer – including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
It’s the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in our country.
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Blood stocks are critical for treatments and urgent interventions, with one-third of blood donations helping to treat people with cancer.
Now, ahead of World Blood Donor Day on June 14, Snowdome Foundation co-founder Grant Rutherford is urging Aussies to give blood and help buy more time for patients.
And it’s a cause Grant is all too familiar with, after losing his daughter Chloe to leukaemia.
“It’s a tragic story, but it’s a story that needs to be told and puts a human face to what we do,” Rutherford said.
“My beautiful daughter Chloe was diagnosed with leukaemia back in 2007.
“Unfortunately, she passed away from complications of her blood cancer and died of pneumonia.”
The impact of COVID-19
The current coronavirus pandemic has also had an impact on blood cancer patients.
“Blood cancer patients are already immunocompromised,” Rutherford said.
“Their immune system is compromised, and we know that COVID-19 attacks the immune system.
“Blood cancer patients have had to be really careful who they come in contact with, just like blood cancer patients who are going through chemotherapy have to be very careful.
“I also believe a lot of patients also delay their treatments like stem cell transplants.
“This highlights the vulnerable blood cancer patient journey, and the need to find a cure.”
The role of blood donations
A third of donated red blood cells in Australia is being used to help treat people with cancer and other blood diseases.
“Giving blood is vitally important,” Rutherford said.
“When Chloe was sick, my colleagues wanted to help and be part of the bone marrow transplant – but the haematologist said that it was prohibitively expensive and you need to be a relative or sibling to get that real match.
“The best they could do is give blood – and the next day, 40 of my colleagues went out and gave blood, which is incredible.
“Donating blood and donating to blood cancer research is just as important as each other.
“Donating to somebody like Snowdome is vitally important to give people real hope that they can beat their cancer and help them live longer, better lives.”
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