Donating blood a life lesson

WITH 168 donations, Queanbeyan High School was once again recognised as one of the region's top contributors to the Red Cross Blood Service.

The school was named winner of the 2013 Red Cross Club Red Challenge for the ACT region. The award is given to the community group with the highest proportion of donations based on the size of the organisation.

Queanbeyan High School was head and shoulders above the rest with the closest competitor Merici College chalking up 34 donations. Following them was Canberra College with 11, Narrabundah College with nine and Karabar High School with eight donations.

Queanbeyan High School blood donation coordinator Ian Crabb said achieving those numbers was no easy feat with about hundred senior students at the schools compared to the thousands in larger colleges.

The teacher, who is up to his 338th donation, attributes the high number of donations to the student's awareness of the demand for blood. There are also student ambassadors who help promote the message.

"I'm just really proud that our students continue to be leaders putting their hands up to say 'I'm young. I'm healthy. I'm willing to give up a little bit of my time to donate some blood because I know it will be treat people who really need it and in particular cancer patients'," he said.

"There are a lot of charities that ask for money and you hear stories that the money doesn't go to where it's needed... but all blood donors know that their blood can only be used to treat those who are really unwell or injured."

Mr Crabb said that awareness will be crucial as the Australian Red Cross Blood Service's new guidelines limits donors under 18-years-old to one donation per year.

"The Red Cross research across Australia found that young donors weren't replenishing their iron stores within their bodies. Their bodies are still growing and developing so it's very important we keep them healthy while they're young," he said.

"Our challenge will be to get a bigger number and proportion of students donating. Currently over 50 per cent of our year 12 students are already donors so we're really promoting the idea of making one donation per year to the new year 11 group."

The blood donation program has been running at the school for the past 17 years. Mr Crabb said it's not unusual to bump into former students at the blood bank.

"I see [former students] at the blood bank on a regular basis and for me, that's when you really know you've made a difference," he said.

"I can take them out [to the blood van] while they're students here at school but when I meet them 12 months, five years, even ten years later and they're so pleased to see you. The first thing they say is 'look I'm still a blood donor'.

"They're really proud that they maintained that community service all on their own."

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