Time to get 'bloody serious' as levels get seriously low
EVERY time Coco Asher has a blood transfusion, it means a stranger has given her the gift of life.
At two months old, Coco was diagnosed with a severe form of pyruvate kinase deficiency, an inherited disorder that affects the survival of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
The seven-year-old requires a blood transfusion every three months.
In the weeks leading up to a transfusion, Coco becomes gradually more jaundiced, more tired and more vulnerable to infection as her body breaks down the red blood cells, her mother Alison said.
"Blood transfusions keep her alive. Without them, we wouldn't have Coco," Mrs Asher said.
Doctors initially told the Sunrise Beach family Coco would not be able to attend school.
"It's only through these blood donations that she's able to go to school," Mrs Asher said. "Blood allows her to have a relatively normal life."
With the Good Shepherd Lutheran College student due for another transfusion in two weeks, the current shortage of blood stocks is a source of concern for her family.
Knowing the difference blood donors have made in her own daughter's life, Mrs Asher and husband Nathan make a point to give blood every three months.
"It's just something that we're so grateful for," she said.
"You don't know who you're giving it to, but you're saving lives every time."
A devastating flu season and an increased demand have brought supply to critically low levels, Blood Service spokesperson Rebecca Ind said. A five-day supply is optimum: currently, there is a 3.2-day supply of O Positive, 2.7 days of O Negative, 3.5 days of A Positive and 3.7 days of A Negative.
"It's a very real situation for us," Ms Ind said.
For the first time in almost two years, the Blood Service has activated its Blood Signal - a social media "Bat Signal" appealing for donors.
"We liken the Blood Signal to the Bat Signal: that is, we hope Australian donors will see it as a call-to-action to rise to the occasion," Ms Ind said.
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