Young man’s last act inspires life-giving blood donations

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The legacy of a young man’s last generous act has inspired dozens of life-giving blood donations.

Australian Army Lieutenant Nicholas Shortland was just 25 years old when he passed away in March after a brain aneurism.

Lieutenant Shortland was able to donate five of his organs when he died.

Following his passing, his partner brought together 26 close friends to donate blood in memory of Lt Shortland, who would have turned 26 in September.

This group included Blacktown City Council employee Tristan Harris, who is part of Council’s Key Venues team.

Mr Harris has been taking part in the Councils Blood Challenge for 2020, an initiative of the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

During his most recent donation of plasma in August, Mr Harris had the words ‘For Nick’ written on the inside of his forearm, in honour of Lt Shortland.

The other 25 friends also did the same during their donations, and photos of these donations were collected for Lt Shortland’s family.

Mr Harris said the experience of donating blood in memory of Lt Shortland was quite emotional.

“It was just important to commemorate him like that and show that he wasn’t donating alone – we’re all in it together and with him, even though he’s not here anymore,” Mr Harris said.

By the end of the Councils Blood Challenge, which began on 1 July and will run until 30 September, Mr Harris will have made 1 blood, 2 plasma, and 2 platelets donations.

He has encouraged his family and Blacktown City Council colleagues to donate.

“I try to spread the message as much as possible,” Mr Harris.

“Even though everyone has blood and it’s abundant, it’s almost considered a limited resource because not many people donate.”

Blacktown City Mayor, Tony Bleasdale OAM, paid tribute to the legacy of Lt Shortland and to all those who donated in his name.

“It is truly wonderful to see such a tragic event turned into an opportunity to give life to others,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“While 1 in 3 Australians will need blood donations at least once in their lives, only 1 in 30 donate.

“I hope the inspiration behind these donations, given in the name of a young man taken too soon, will spread further and embolden others in our community to consider donating blood.

“I would encourage anyone in Blacktown City who is interested in getting involved, and in saving 3 lives in the process, to book an appointment today.”

Red Cross Lifeblood NSW Manager Steve Eldridge said more than 31,000 donations are needed every week to help cancer patients, accident survivors, new mums, and many other seriously ill Australians.

“We want to thank everyone who’s continued to step up and donate during this pandemic, and Blacktown City Council for all their hard work in keeping blood supplies flowing,” Mr Eldridge said.

“However, the reality is the need for blood and blood products never stops so we urge all eligible Australians to make blood or plasma donation part of their ‘new normal’.

“Lifeblood donor centres are safe to visit, with strict social distancing, cleaning and donor eligibility measures in place.

“Only healthy people are eligible to give blood and we have introduced even more stringent wellness checks prior to appointments, including temperature checking.”

How can you help?

Blacktown City Council ranked first in Australia in the Councils Blood Challenge in 2019 with a total of 478 donations made by staff and the community.

If you would like to contribute you simply need to ask for your donation to be recorded on Blacktown City Council’s tally at your next donation.

You can book an appointment to donate blood at donateblood.com.au.

Where can you donate?

There are a number of locations within Blacktown City where you can donate blood. They are:

• Plumpton Marketplace, corner Hyatts and Jersey Roads, Plumpton, NSW, 2761

• Blacktown Kmart, 28 Patrick Street, Blacktown, NSW, 2148

• Marsden Park Bunnings, corner Richmond and Hollinsworth Roads, Marsden Park, NSW, 2765

• The Fiddler, corner Commercial & Windsor Roads, Rouse Hill, NSW, 2155.

You can also donate at the Red Cross Blood Service’s donor centres at Jamisontown (Nepean Donor Centre) or Parramatta.

Picture: Blacktown City Council employee Tristan Harris takes part in the Councils Blood Challenge 2020 with the words ‘For Nick’ written on his arm in memory of the late Lieutenant Nicholas Shortland, who passed away in March.

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