MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2021
In Australia, Men's Health Week provides a platform for challenging and debating key issues in men's health and to raise the profile of men, their health outcomes and health needs around the country. While National Blood Donor Week is a time to celebrate the amazing blood donors around Australia. But every 24 seconds a new blood donor is needed in Australia, and if one of those donors happens to be a sick newborn or premature baby, the donor blood from men becomes even more crucial.
An often-unknown fact is that blood used for lifesaving exchange transfusions to babies in neonatal units needs to come from male donors who are O negative and CMV negative – meaning their blood has tested negative for antibodies for a flu-like virus, that around 85% of adults have been exposed to by the age of 40. This virus can be fatal for babies, which is why CMV negative donors are so important.
Unfortunately, women can produce antibodies during pregnancy, even during short pregnancies they may never have known about, and this makes their blood unsuitable for neonatal transfusions. This means only men’s blood is used for these specialist transfusions and is also preferred for intrauterine transfusions (when the baby is transfused while still inside the womb).
Miracle Babies knows the birth of a premature or sick newborn can be especially hard for dads. They may be intensely worried about their baby and partner and feel frustrated and helpless that they can’t do more, while also trying to juggle work commitments and perhaps looking after other children at home. This is where the ability to give back by donating life-saving blood to babies can help fathers find more meaning and involvement in the NICU journey. It’s important to know that it is not common for parents to be able to donate blood to their own children. Time can be one factor but in addition, there are some increased risks of rare transfusion reactions when children receive blood from relatives. Although your donated blood will go to help other babies, it is a life saving gift you can offer and a thank you for the blood your baby may receive. The true meaning of community.
A few more amazing facts about male blood is it also has the added bonus of generally being higher in iron and is used to make fresh frozen plasma with clotting proteins, used for trauma patients with massive blood loss or those with rare diseases. Men provide 93% of platelets, which are part of the body’s blood clotting system. More than 50% of platelets go to people with cancer, to reduce internal bleeding.
So, if you’ve never donated before, guys now is the time! Dads, uncles, grandfathers, mates - you could be helping to save a precious NICU baby.
Visit, the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood website to check if you’re eligible to give blood and to book a donation to help make a change for life.
If you’re a Miracle dad and you’re needing extra support, you can find help with the following links:
Need support? NurtureConnect allows you to connect with our NurtureProgram support team.