LOOKING BACK: Helen Wynd, who was among the first volunteers, catches up with Clare Dwyer during celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Red Cross Blood Bank in Lismore.
LOOKING BACK: Helen Wynd, who was among the first volunteers, catches up with Clare Dwyer during celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Red Cross Blood Bank in Lismore. Doug Eaton

Lismore blood donor service celebrates 60th anniversary

DONATING blood was a basic affair when volunteer Helen Wynd helped launch Lismore's first blood donor centre in 1953.

The centre began in the outpatients' unit of Lismore Base Hospital with donors forced to wait in the corridors for their turn to give."We had nowhere to give them a cup of tea and they were all sitting in the hallways," Mrs Wynd recalled.

But the work saved lives.

Mrs Wynd, who before the age of computers and databases retained all the donor blood-type information in one key book, was responsible for making emergency calls to donors.

Doctors would sometimes call her in the evening in urgent need of AB negative blood - the rarest type - to save someone's life.

She would even drive out to pick up one of the six or so donors with the rare blood type.

Nowadays, the experience is a little more luxurious for those giving blood at the purpose-built Lismore Red Cross Donor Centre which opened in 2011.

Donors are treated to a hotel-style lobby, private interview rooms to collect their information, and a cafe with complementary drinks and snacks.

Yesterday the original "vollies" joined staff and current volunteers at the centre to celebrate the service's 60th anniversary.

Today there's a multitude of uses for the blood - it can be split into red blood cells, plasma, and platelets - and the saying goes: "one donation can help save three lives".

THEN AND NOW

1953: 1500 donations per year, or 750 litres.

2013: 13,000 donations per year, or nearly 7000 litres.

 Today donors can donate whole blood or plasma.

 Whole blood is used in emergencies, while plasma is used to manufacture lifesaving medical treatments.

 Demand for plasma is expected to double in the next decade.


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