A combo of kindness
Dion’s father went through a serious health scare when Dion was a young boy – an event that has now not only paved way for Dion’s profession as a firefighter, but also his commitment to blood donation for 30 years and counting.
Over 29,000 patients are treated with blood or blood products in New Zealand every year. In order to meet the demand New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) relies on its donors to give a total of 3,000 donations every week of the year. It was selfless donors like these who contributed to saving Dion’s fathers’ life.
Dion was only five years old when his father was diagnosed with leukaemia. Dion vividly remembers a wave of support from family and friends upon hearing the news of his diagnosis – a constant flow of both emotional and practical support as some would visit their house to help with mowing the lawns and other labour-intensive work that needed doing.
As Dion grew older, his father went into remission and was eventually in the clear, but he recalls him repeatedly voicing a yearning to have been a donor for those in need.
“I remember him constantly saying how he would’ve loved to have been able to donate blood as a way to give back to those who helped him, and it really stuck with me”, says Dion.
During his father’s fight with leukaemia, he required several blood transfusions. It was a combination of a stranger’s kindness to donate blood for someone in need, and the tight knit sense of community that Dion experienced during his dad’s health scare that has been forever embedded in his memory.
“I’ve honestly always liked helping people out. But that awesome sense of community I experienced growing up when my dad was sick really had an impact on me”, says Dion.
“Also, those selfless strangers we won’t ever meet, whose blood helped my dad get better. People helped us out and that’s how it started for me, as a blood donor and in my profession. I started donating as soon as I was eligible – at first it was a matter of just paying it forward for dad, but in the industry I’m in, I see the need for blood first hand and I just felt the need to keep at it”, says Dion.
He’s so committed, he even participates in the yearly Firefighter Sky Tower Vertical Challenge – a yearly fundraiser for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand where fully-suited firefighters climb all 51 floors of the Auckland Sky Tower in aid of the charity.
“It’s just such an easy thing to do that doesn’t hurt very much and doesn’t cost a thing. If you’re eligible to donate, go for it – you’ll change lives and even get a biscuit or two.”
To find out more about how you can become a blood donor, click here or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD.