STEPHEN Dunster is part of a special group of blood donors with a rare blood type that can save the life of an unborn baby.
The Butler resident, who has made more than 450 donations, is one of only 19 WA donors whose blood is used to make Anti-D – an injection given to 17 per cent of women during pregnancy to prevent unborn babies from developing the potentially fatal haemolytic disease.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s Anti-D Program, sparking a call for more plasma donors.
“The discovery of the Anti-D injection was a medical breakthrough in 1967 and since then, more than 2 million Australian women have received 3 million injections of Anti-D,” Blood Service spokeswoman Jessica Willet said.
“Since then, the need for plasma has continued to grow and incredibly, plasma is now used to make more than 18 different life-giving injections.
“Our growing population and new medical treatments made from plasma means demand is rising every year, so we always need more people to come forward.
“While Anti-D donors are rare, every plasma donation is vital for helping treat conditions such as haemophilia, cancer, autoimmune disorders, bleeding, as well as burns and immunisations.”
To donate, visit www.donateblood.com.au or call 13 14 95.
PREVENTATIVE Anti-D injections are given to all pregnant women with a negative blood type in case their baby has a positive bloody type.
Babies’ blood is tested at birth, so the injections are given before birth.
Seventeen per cent of the population in Australia have negative blood types.
A difference between the mother’s blood and that of her baby can be fatal for the baby.
During the birth of the first child, some blood from the baby may enter the mother’s bloodstream via the placenta.
If antibodies develop in the mother’s blood, they can attack future babies in utero, causing miscarriage or serious brain damage to the baby.
The Anti-D Program takes the blood of 150 special plasma donors, who already have an antibody that combats foreign blood.
When Anti-D is given to a mother during pregnancy and after the baby’s birth, it does the work for her, so her blood does not have to create its own antibodies.
This Anti-D plasma eventually ‘wears off’ meaning the mother would need further injections for any future pregnancies.