Alexandra Hills resident Julie Young has been thanked by the Red Cross Blood Service for her rare blood type, which is used to treat unborn Aussie babies at risk of Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN) – a condition that can, if left untreated, lead to stillbirth.
Ms Young is part of a program that takes the blood plasma of a special group of donors and makes it into a lifesaving injection – called Anti-D – for pregnant women, and which prevents a mother’s blood from harming her baby in utero.
Red Cross Blood Service spokesman Wes Thomas said this year marked the 50th anniversary of Anti-D.
“It truly is a medicine, supplied by blood donors, that has revolutionised childbirth and gifted thousands of women the happiness of bringing healthy babies into the world,” Mr Thomas said.
“Anti-D tricks the mother’s body into thinking it has already created an antibody.
“The body therefore doesn’t create the antibody, preventing the mother’s blood from attacking the fetus’ blood.” Mr Thomas said 17 per cent of all pregnant women in Australia were at risk, and Ms Young was one of only 150 Australian donors whose blood was critical in protecting them.
Ms Young said she had a very personal reason as to why she joined the Anti-D program when it first expanded into Queensland.
“I was the recipient of Anti-D myself during the birth of my first child, but this wasn’t required with my second,” she said.
“From personal experience, I know what a precious gift it is to have a safe and healthy baby.
“When I was offered the chance to join the Anti-D program, I didn’t hesitate.
“Now every time I donate, I feel so extremely glad to be able to help other women who are going through what I went through.
“I’m proud to be able to help keep their babies healthy for them”.
As part of its Anti-D celebrations, the Blood Service is issuing a call for more donors to follow in Ms Young’s footsteps by donating plasma.
Jennifer Campbell Case, from the Red Cross Blood Service, said the discovery of the Anti-D injection was a medical breakthrough in 1967.
“Australia owes Julie, and those in our community who donate plasma, a big thank you, and it’s time for more people to come forward and give plasma,” she said.
To donate blood, contact 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au.