Recipient Story: Jake Bailey

“Be gallant, be great, be gracious”

A video of a stirring valedictory speech from Christchurch’s Boys’ High School raced around the world back in 2015. The content was nothing short of compelling and inspirational, despite such difficult circumstances. The presenter? A relentless optimist and now blood donor advocate, Jake Bailey.

The week before he was due to give his high school’s prize giving, 18-year-old head boy Jake was given news he had an aggressive form of cancer. Although told he had only two weeks to live without treatment, he valiantly presented his speech regardless. While his intent was to write up gripping words of inspiration for his fellow classmates, he instead captivated the world with his poise, his optimism and his candour.

Now, three years on not only does he find himself in remission and back to his healthy self, but also passionately pursuing a career in public speaking, which is clearly a natural skill.

“I’m proud to say that I was a blood donor prior to receiving blood products during my illness”, says Jake. “I only donated three times, however, so that leaves me in debt, which I’m fully committed to replacing”

The biggest use of blood products within NZBS (28%) goes towards the treatment of cancer. Cancer patients going through chemotherapy treatments have decreased ability to produce new blood cells and in turn, are unable to replace blood cells that have been destroyed. This lowers the patients’ blood cell count which is why transfusions of red cells and/or platelets may be needed. It was a total of 19 red cell transfusions and seven platelet transfusions that helped nurse Jake back to health.

Since Jake’s cancer diagnosis permanently excludes him from donating blood again, he’s become an advocate for blood donation and encourages friends, family and all those around him to roll up a sleeve and donate.

“A lot of people know someone who is going through a journey like cancer or something similar, and they don’t necessarily know what to do or how to support these people”, says Jake. “Encouraging blood donation is something you can do that’ll go directly towards someone in potentially these exact circumstances.

“I know a lot of my mates and my family became blood donors to help me during my health scare, and it made them feel like they were partly in control of my destiny. When you have to sit back and watch someone go through such a trying time, it’s very easy to feel powerless or out of control but donating blood gives you an immense sense of power – you’re saving lives. “

Jake continues his passion of public speaking by sharing his story with others in hopes of inspiring and motivating anyone going through what he did, all whilst recruiting blood donors along the way. In the words of Jake Bailey, ‘none of us get out of life alive, so be gallant, be great, be gracious, and sign up to be a blood donor - you never know when you are going to need bags and bags of the stuff’.

To find out more about how you can become a blood donor, click here or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD.

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