Bendigo blood donor Paul Emilianowicz rolls up his sleeves for the 500th time

PAUL Emilianowicz has potentially saved 1500 lives in the more than 30 years he’s been donating blood.

But he doesn’t seem to think of it that way. 

The 47-year-old is just glad to be doing his bit to help people in need of life-saving blood.

“My aim is always just to make sure I’m right for each donation,” Mr Emilianowicz said.

He was feeling a little nervous ahead of a milestone 500th donation on Wednesday, more because of the anticipated media attention than anything else.

Those who know Mr Emilianowicz are aware he keeps a regular fortnightly appointment at the Bendigo Donor Centre.

But, by all reports, he’s generally a quiet achiever.

Australian Red Cross Blood Service community relations officer Shae Smith said Mr Emilianowicz agreed to the media opportunity in the hope of convincing more people to give blood.

The need for donations cannot be overstated. 

Blood can be used to create 22 different medical treatments, according to the ARCBS.

Trauma, including road incidents, accounts for about 2 per cent of donated blood.

The majority of blood donated – 34 per cent – is used to treat cancer and blood diseases.

(DATA: How blood donations are used)

Anaemia – a condition characterised by a lack of red blood cells – accounts for about 19 per cent of donations.

About 18 per cent of donated blood is used for surgical patients and procedures such as open heart surgery.

Tackling heart disease, stomach disease and kidney disease uses about 13 per cent of the donations.

About 10 per cent of donated blood is used for orthopaedic treatments, such as joint replacements.

Obstetrics – including pregnant women, new mothers and young children – calls for about 4 per cent of blood.

Earlier this month, the ARCBS appealed for universal blood donors after reserves of O-Negative type blood dropped dangerously low.

The blood service reported just two days’ supply remaining on July 3.

“We have had a good response from the call out, but we still would like to see O-Negative donors continuing to come in,” Ms Smith said.

Cold and flu season poses its challenges for blood donors, with the ARCBS reporting the potential for up to 1000 sickness-related appointment cancellations.

The blood service said an extra 4,500 O-Negative blood donations were needed this month to help boost stocks up to normal levels.

“About nine per cent of Australians have O-Negative blood type,” Ms Smith said.

Mr Emilianowicz is not one of them.

But he said his blood type was in demand for a particular type of donation – plasma.

Plasma makes up more than half of blood. It carries both red and white blood cells, along with platelets.

The fluid can last for up to a year while frozen – each type of donation has a different shelf life.

Plasma is versatile. The ARCBS describes 18 different uses, ranging from treating serious burns and cancer to helping people with neurological diseases.

Donors can give plasma once a fortnight – Mr Emilianowicz wished it was possible to roll up his sleeves more often.

He advised those considering donating to give it a go.

“Don’t stress is you don’t get it right the first time,” he said.

Mr Emilianowicz’s top tips included staying well hydrated – “drink plenty of water” – and ensuring you’d eaten properly.

Further information, including donor eligibility, is available from the Donate Blood website: 

Rolling up to assist

Paul Emilianowicz with a cake baked especially for the occasion by a staffer at the Bendigo Donor Centre.

Paul Emilianowicz with a cake baked especially for the occasion by a staffer at the Bendigo Donor Centre.

PAUL Emilianowicz was 16 years old when he started donating blood.

“They came to our school. I was in secondary school,” he said.

It might have been the lure of a biscuit or treat that endeared the idea to him.

Whatever the reason, Mr Emilianowicz decided to roll up his sleeves. And he’s been a blood donor ever since.

At one point, he was even driving from Bendigo back to his hometown of Melbourne to keep up his regular appointments.

The technology and techniques used to collect blood have advanced in the more than 30 years Mr Emilianowicz has been a donor, both generally and at the Bendigo Donor Centre.

From the capacity to donate plasma, to the amount of fluid that flows back into his arm as he gives the blood components vital to those in need, Mr Emilianowicz sounded almost as knowledgeable as the centre staff as he explained improvements in the processes.

Plasma donors have whole blood removed from their veins.

A machine separates the plasma from the components not required by the blood service, which are returned to the donor, along with some fluid.

Other forms of donation include whole blood and platelets.

A cake made for Paul Emilianowicz, who made his 500th blood donation this week, by a Bendigo Donor Centre staffer.

A cake made for Paul Emilianowicz, who made his 500th blood donation this week, by a Bendigo Donor Centre staffer.

Donating takes about an hour – time Mr Emilianowicz said he normally spent watching the news.

As the Bendigo Donation Centre celebrated the rare feat of a 500th donation, their star donor found himself surrounded by the media.

The appointment concluded with a cake made especially for Mr Emilianowicz by a staffer at the centre.

It was one of a number of precious memories the Bendigo donor said giving blood had provided him.

Other highlights included National Blood Donor Week functions, especially the opportunity to meet blood recipients.