IN a world without leukaemia, 18-year-old Blake Wilson from Dunsborough, Western Australia would have graduated from St Mary Mackillop Catholic College in November 2020.
Instead, Blake’s family watched thousands of school graduates descend on the town during Leavers Week last year as they mourned the loss of their beloved Blake to acute myeloid leukaemia.
“It was a heartbreaking time as Blake’s fight with leukaemia was never supposed to end that way,” Blake’s mother Kristin said.
This year, in honour of Blake, the family created Leavers4Lifeblood, an awareness campaign asking Leavers in Western Australia, and Schoolies across the rest of the country, to sign up to donate blood and join the Australian Bone Marrow Registry.
“Blood donations and two bone marrow transplants from unrelated donors helped Blake during his cancer treatment,” Mrs Wilson said.
“Without them, he wouldn’t have survived more than a few months after his diagnosis in 2019.
“He got to spend 18 more months fighting Leukaemia, time his family will be forever grateful for.”
Mrs Wilson said Leavers4Lifeblood was Blake’s idea.
“He wanted to give back and say thank you to the generous community member who donated well-over 200 units of blood, platelets and plasma during his treatment,” Mrs Wilson said.
In conjunction with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and qualified professionals from Lifeblood, Blake’s family, friends and this years’ school leavers will be at the Dunsborough Foreshore on Sunday, November 21 and Monday, November 22, to raise awareness and inspire Blake’s peers to sign-up and join the Lifeblood team.
Lifeblood Group account manager Gina Tracey congratulated Blake’s family for starting the Leavers4Lifeblood team and said the organisation was looking forward to one of the biggest ever outdoor blood drives in WA.
“One in three Australians will need blood or blood products at some point in their life, and with demand at its highest in nearly a decade, now is the perfect time for a new generation of blood donors to sign up and start a life-saving habit,” Ms Tracey said.
“We’re really looking forward to meeting lots of leavers, answering their questions about blood donation, and signing them up to the wonderful Leavers4Lifeblood Team.”
Mrs Wilson wants to use the foreshore event to remind not just school leavers, but anyone who has thought about donating blood or bone marrow, how easy it is to join up and save a life.
“Having just gone through their year 12 exams during a pandemic, we think this year’s Leavers are a similar group of young people who, like Blake, have faced many challenges in the last 18 months,” she said
“We want Leavers, and Australians, to recognise the importance of becoming a blood donor and bone marrow donor.
“Twelve months ago, Blake should have been at Leavers celebrating, but, unfortunately, we don’t live in a world without leukaemia.”
To book a blood donation visit www.lifeblood.com.au or call 13 14 95.
Download the free Lifeblood Donate Blood App and join the Leavers4Lifeblood team.
To join the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry visit www.abmdr.org.au/donors or call 02 9052 3333.
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.