Alison Johansen encourages others to give blood

BLEED BY EXAMPLE: Donor centre nurses Kristine Lindsay and Emma Moore, and centre manager Gail Turnbull with Josh and Alison Johansen. Photo: EMILY BENNETT

BLEED BY EXAMPLE: Donor centre nurses Kristine Lindsay and Emma Moore, and centre manager Gail Turnbull with Josh and Alison Johansen. Photo: EMILY BENNETT

Twelve-year-old Josh Johansen has had about 100 blood transfusions in his lifetime.

Josh was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancer of the retina) when he was five years old.

About five years later, Josh developed a second primary form of cancer called esthesioneuroblastoma (cancer of the nasal cavity) and a mass the size of a man’s fist at the base of his skull.

For Josh and his mother Alison Johansen, a cancellation at the Red Cross blood service has been the difference between immediate medical assistance and a seven hour wait.

Ms Johansen said a small amount of time out of a blood donor’s day made a big difference for people like Josh.

“[One time] we got into the hospital at 9am and we were still waiting for Josh to have his transfusion at 4pm,” she said.

“I’ve seen him with no energy, I’ve had to carry him into hospital because he’s needed blood.

“After a transfusion he goes from being carried into the hospital to running out.”

Ms Johansen recently spoke at an event for frequent blood donors during national Blood Donor Week.

“It’s about getting [Josh’s] story out there to encourage and inspire people to donate and to thank the donors,” she said.

“It’s good for them to see firsthand what a difference their donations can make.”

Orange donor centre manager Gail Turnbull encouraged first-time blood donors to roll up their sleeve and give. “With winter coming up, a lot of donors will cancel because they have colds and flus,” Ms Turnbull said.

“If you’ve never donated before, it’s a great time to start.”

Ms Turnbull said the centre needed 20 blood donors and 20 plasma donors next week to meet its demand.

Ms Johansen said despite her phobia of needles, she has still donated blood.

“It’s such a small part out of your day,” she said.

“The staff at the Red Cross [blood service] make you feel relaxed.”

Ms Johansen knows the difference a blood donation makes, as Josh is about to reach the fourth year in remission.

“Blood is one of the most precious gifts you can give,” she said.

“We live each day to the fullest and enjoy each day. You find joy in the smallest things.”

Visit donateblood.com or call 13 14 95 to make an appointment to donate blood.

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