CENTRAL Victorians have been urged to roll up their sleeves and give back to the community this National Blood Donor Week.
Bendigo's Paul Kirkpatrick, 64, has been doing just that for the past 40 years. He has made more than 250 blood donations in his life.
"I started because there was a bit of family tradition," he said. "My grandmother was the superintendent of the Red Cross in Bendigo.
"When I was six or seven, I would go along when they would do blood collections. I just thought it was interesting and I wanted to give back to the community."
In the past year, Bendigo blood donors have provided more than 15,500 donations to support vulnerable patients.
The blood and plasma collected in Bendigo contributed to the almost 1.5 million donations collected across the country.
Mr Kirkpatrick said he previously would donate blood once every 12 weeks. He now does plasma donations every fortnight.
"The staff are highly trained," he said. "They make it as painless as they can. It can you give you a bit of a sting in the arm, but if you look away it's not that's bad."
Mr Kirkpatrick said this COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how important blood donations were.
"Think of the bigger picture," he said. "If you donate plasma or blood, it can be made into so many different products.
"Especially now, it is so important to give back to the community and those in poor health or those who are immunocompromised."
Australian Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson Shae Burns agreed now was the time to give back.
"During National Blood Donor Week, we say thank you to all our donors for their generosity and life-saving gifts and urge others to join them," Ms Burns said.
"It takes just an hour of your time to donate blood and every donation can help save up to three lives."
National Blood Donor Week runs from June 14 - 20. To book a blood donation, call 13 14 95 or visit lifeblood.com.au
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