Geoff Blogg has been faithfully rolling up his sleeve for 57 years.
He drives 200 kilometres every fortnight to give blood and has become Australia’s top donor with 854 donations.
“It’s become a bit competitive,” Mr Blogg says.
“I enjoy being number one, but that’s not the reason I give blood.
He says top spot is just a bonus.
“I’m there to donate blood because it’s needed,” he says.
Red Cross Lifeblood is desperately seeking more donors because people are cancelling appointments with illness.
Rebecca Ind from Lifeblood on the Sunshine Coast says the need is urgent.
“We have the perfect storm for a potential blood donor shortage as we start winter,” she says.
People with blood types A and O are most needed, and each donation can save up to three lives.
“Winter is always a challenging time because a lot of our regular donors become sick with colds and flus and are unable to donate while they’re unwell,” Ms Ind says.
“You also see an increase in demand for blood products in hospitals to help those patients going through treatment for cancer or leukaemia and various other conditions.”
Mr Blogg relishes being the country’s top donor, and is keenly aware of another donor in South Australia who has just cracked 850 donations.
“I have a target of getting to 1,000. That will probably take me to about [age] 82,” Mr Blogg says.
“The doctor says that I can keep going — I’m fit and healthy so I don’t have any problems.”
Mr Blogg usually gives plasma, instead of whole blood, and has donated in every state and territory of Australia.
“We used to travel in our caravan and wherever I was, if there was a blood bank handy, I would do my normal donation,” he says.
But his regular pilgrimage is a two-hour round-trip with his wife to Maroochydore from their home near Kilcoy.
“My wife usually goes with me and she goes to the shopping centre and I do my blood donation, and then I go over and we finish the shopping and go home,” she says.
It takes something major for an appointment to be skipped.
“A few years ago I broke my ankle and I was laid up in hospital … so I had to postpone donating while that happened,” he says.
“In September I’m going overseas for four weeks … so I’ll probably miss maybe one or two donations.
“But as soon as I’m back, I’ll be back into it again. That’s how I keep my life total up.”
Mr Blogg says his daughter’s birth reaffirmed his commitment to giving blood.
“[She] was a blue baby at birth and she had to have a total transfusion,” he says.
“But I was already a blood donor before that … I started in Sydney [in 1966] as a result of my employer, which was the old PMG department.
“They used to encourage blood donations by sending lists around the workplace and you just put your name down and away you went.”
But after all these years, Mr Blogg still can’t watch the needle going into his arm.
“I look the other way every time,” he says.
“I’m not squeamish about blood, I just don’t like thinking about the needle.”
Mr Blogg has been donating in Maroochydore for about seven years, since his 700th donation, and has built strong rapport with the nurses.
“It’s a very comfortable and happy place,” he says.
Mr Blogg encourages anyone who is eligible to give blood to consider doing so.
“We could do with a lot more donors … it’s a good habit to get into and more people should do it,” he says.
Donating blood takes about an hour, including filling out a form, getting a health check and eating snacks afterwards.
“Giving blood is a really rewarding experience and most people who have donated for the first time say that it was much easier than they thought it was going to be,” Ms Ind says.
“It is the easiest way for just an hour of your time to help save three people’s lives.
“And for those people who think that everybody is donating blood, less than 4 per cent of the Australian population donates blood despite the fact that around 13.5 million Aussies can.”