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Thursday, 27 November 2003

Red Cross Summer Blood Challenge

Gianni Gourlas is a happy 12-year-old, who, thanks to regular blood donors is able to lead a normal life. Gianni suffers from Thalassaemia Major, an inherited blood disorder, which is a form of severe anaemia. He relies on regular blood transfusions for his survival.

Gianni has been receiving blood transfusions every four weeks since the age of four to treat his condition. He needs three units of blood every time he has a transfusion to ensure that his body has enough red blood cells to carry oxygen and iron around his body. Gianni is given the highest level of care from the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick where he receives his transfusions every month. Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for child health with a full range of specialist services treating children from all over NSW and Australia with many conditions including cancer, trauma, HIV/AIDS, congenital abnormalities, heart disease and respiratory disorders.

Gianni enjoys playing golf, tennis and soccer, but knows that this would not be possible without the regular blood transfusions he receives, kindly donated by selfless everyday Australians. To show his support and thanks to the many blood donors that help him lead a normal life, and the work of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS), Gianni is officially launching the Summer Blood Challenge today at the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

The Summer Blood Challenge is an annual competition between police and motorcyclists to see who can donate the most blood from 1 December 2003 to 27 February 2004. Since the inception of the Challenge over a decade ago NSW Police and Motorcyclists have worked together to help potentially save 55,000 lives with donated blood.

The Summer Blood Challenge is not just an opportunity to raise extra blood donations over this critical time for the ARCBS, but also a tool with which to educate the community about the importance of donating blood on a regular basis. As ARCBS spokesperson, Richard Webb indicated, 'an estimated 80% of Australians benefit from blood or blood products at some stage during their lives, however, only 3% of Australians are regular blood donors. The Summer Blood Challenge is a great way in which the Blood Service can educate the community about the importance of donating blood on a regular basis.'

Gianni says 'thank you to all the people who have donated blood to keep me healthy' and urges the community to get involved with the Summer Blood Challenge to help raise extra donations for patients in hospitals over the critical summer months.

Saving lives brings out the best in all of us. Anyone can save lives. All you have to do is nominate who you would like to support - the NSW Police or Motorcyclists when you donate blood between 1 December 2003 and 27 February 2004.

For information about donating blood, locations or to make an
appointment phone 13 14 95.

For Further Information Contact:

Amy McIntosh, Public Affairs Officer Tel: 9382 3578 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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