ALMOST 50 years ago, Gerard Coyte was working for an oil company in Sydney when a serious helicopter accident killed three people.
This spurred colleagues on the oil rig to donate blood, with the company encouraging everyone to roll up their sleeves.
It was 1970 and this was the first time Mr Coyte donated.
Now, the Duncraig 75-year-old is being recognised for making 450 donations, which is more than 210 litres, saving 1350 lives.
Mr Coyte has been donating fortnightly, which was further inspired when his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumour about 10 years ago.
“She was operated on and had radiation and chemotherapy, but a couple of years later, the tumour returned,” Mr Coyte said.
“She had to have another operation, but her immunity was down and she got pneumonia and needed a blood transfusion. After she received the blood, she really perked up.
“It was moving at the time to think she was able to get blood when she needed it.
“It made me realise when someone so close to me needed it, how precious blood is and how grateful we were.”
Mr Coyte joins 517 others from Perth being recognised this National Blood Donor Week (June 11-17) for having made a milestone number of lifesaving donations.
This also includes Gnangara resident and Edgewater Blood Donor Centre volunteer Eleanor Stewart who is being recognised for 300 donations and Gina Hollis, of Clarkson, for 200 donations.
Ms Hollis needed blood as an eight-year-old after a car accident and always wanted to become a donor.
This was also how she came to be a nursing assistant at the Edgewater donor centre.
Blood Service spokeswoman Jessica Willet hopes National Blood Donor Week will inspire more Perth people to become “bloody legends”.
“Together, Perth donors have given up more than 55,000 litres of blood in the past year and helped save the lives of close to 350,000 Australians,” she said.
“National Blood Donor Week is the time to take that first step of making an appointment to give blood.
“Winter is a traditionally tough time for the Blood Service because many regular donors can’t give blood due to cold and flu symptoms,” she said.
“We’d love to see some new donors give blood at any of our Perth donor centres to help ensure that we maintain blood stocks over the winter period.”
Call 13 14 95 or visit www.donateblood.com.au.