Gift of life a long-term connection for Santa Bruce

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
Long-time blood donor Bruce Zilm and Rockingham Blood Donation Centre staff member Kerri Chalmers are encouraging people to donate blood and give the "gift of life" this Christmas.
Camera IconLong-time blood donor Bruce Zilm and Rockingham Blood Donation Centre staff member Kerri Chalmers are encouraging people to donate blood and give the "gift of life" this Christmas. Credit: Chloe Fraser

For more than 60 years, Bruce Zilm has helped save countless lives by donating blood at the Lifeblood Rockingham Donor Centre.

But after a mammoth 487 donations, Mr Zilm has been forced to give up his plans to reach a record 500 donations, with an unexpected cancer diagnosis stepping in the way.

Although he has not been able to donate over the past few years, Mr Zilm continues to do his bit for the service by donning a big red suit in December to spread some festive cheer to donors.

With a shortage of blood donors over the holiday period Mr Zilm is encouraging people to make an appointment and give the “gift of life” this Christmas.

More than 1300 donors are needed across WA from December 21-January 3 to prevent a possible shortage of blood stocks, with 113 donors still needed in Rockingham alone.

Lifeblood spokeswoman Helen Walsh said many regular donors took a well-earned break between Christmas and the new year, but “the need for blood never stops”.

“It takes blood donations from four people to make just one bag of platelets for patients, and they only last for five days so we can’t stockpile them ahead of the holidays,” she said.

“Timing is critical ... blood donors are constantly needed to ensure patients get this vital product.

“We need a new donor every five minutes to meet Australia’s growing blood needs, so there’s never been a better time to donate.”

The blood is vital to the treatment of cancer patients, road accident patients, pregnant mums and premature babies. The Lifeblood Rockingham Donor Centre is located at Unit 3A, 1 Benjamin Way and is open from 7am-12.45pm on Friday, December 27, from 7.30am-12.30pm on Sunday, December 29, from 11.30am- 7pm on Monday, December 30, from 7am-3.30pm on Tuesday, December 31, from 7am-1pm on Thursday, January 2, and from 7am-12.45pm on Friday, January 3.

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