BIG EFFORT: Gail Schelbach reaches a milestone of 265 blood donations as nurse Natalie Forrest looks on.
BIG EFFORT: Gail Schelbach reaches a milestone of 265 blood donations as nurse Natalie Forrest looks on. Rob Williams

Grandmother honoured for blood donations ... all 250 of them

THE loss of her brother and both her parents to cancer has inspired Gail Schelbach's own bloody crusade.

At least once a fortnight, the Ipswich grandmother will spend an hour giving blood plasma at the Red Cross' Riverlink donor centre to help save the lives of people just like her long-lost family members.

Since first donating blood in 1983, she has surpassed a phenomenal 250 individual donations - a milestone that has earned her official recognition from the Red Cross.

The honour comes as Australians celebrate National Blood Donor Week from July 14-21, which recognises Australia's 600,000 voluntary donors and the 1.35 million blood donations they make every year.

Mrs Schelbach will receive an award at a ceremony at The Pullman Hotel, King George Square, on Saturday, July 20.

"Mum used to donate at the old RSL in Nicholas St - if we were well-behaved while we were waiting she would give us cordial and biscuits," Mrs Schelbach said.

"When I was 13 my brother passed away from brain cancer - aged just 11. While mum had been a donor for years, I think the death of someone like that can instil something in you."

Mrs Schelbach's mother and father both died of cancer before the age of 54.

"I think that if there is anything you can do to stop another person from going through that, it is worth it," she said. "There are a lot of people who have donated more blood than me, and most of them will tell you the same type of story."

Blood Service spokesperson Amy McDowell said one in three Australians would need blood in their lifetime but only one in 30 actually donated.

Ipswich needs more than 250 donations each week to meet demand, with cancer patients among the biggest users of donated blood.

To donate call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au.



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