It took the generosity of seven strangers to keep Unanderra resident Brendan Caunt alive after a car accident on Picton Road eight years ago.
Seven bags of blood from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service helped counter the massive blood loss the Unanderra man suffered due to internal bleeding from the serious accident on May 26, 2006.
Now Mr Caunt, 34, is giving back as a regular donor at the Wollongong Blood Donor Centre, which moved last month to state-of-the-art premises in Kembla Street.
"I'd given blood a couple of times before the accident but never really thought twice about where that blood went," he said.
"Now I realise how important it is, I donate blood and plasma regularly and it feels really good to be giving something back."
According to the Red Cross, 34 per cent of donated blood goes to people with cancer and blood diseases, and the rest to traumatic accidents, burns or surgery.
"Only two per cent of the red cells from blood go to people involved in trauma including road accidents," Mr Caunt said. "I never thought I'd be part of that statistic."
Mr Caunt, a car enthusiast, was on his way to an event at Oran Park Raceway with a friend when the trailer they were towing became unstable, causing their vehicle to swerve into the path of an oncoming car.
"We hit a couple of bumps and the trailer started to sway and bounce and our car lost control," he said. "I was in the front passenger seat and the oncoming car smashed straight into my door.
"Luckily for me there was a paramedic a couple of cars behind and he came to my aid straight away.
"I was airlifted to St George hospital with a smashed pelvis; my left femur broke in half and my left foot was de-gloved and I lost all the toes on that foot."
Mr Caunt spent three days in an induced coma, two-and-a-half months in hospital, 10 months in a wheelchair and 12 months more on crutches. He suffers ongoing pain in his foot and pelvis but still has a passion for cars, and for giving back.
He's a familiar face at the new $2.2 million Wollongong Blood Donor Centre, where a poster with his photograph and story hangs with those of other recipients.
The Red Cross and the Mercury put out a call to the community at the official opening of the centre on March 25 to reach a target of 1000 litres in one month, and as the halfway point approaches, 470 litres of blood has been given.