Phillip Murray was about to give blood for the 363rd time, when an Australian Red Cross nurse picked up an erratic heartbeat during his pre-donation check.
The medical team at the Wollongong Blood Donor Centre urged the Corrimal grandfather to head straight to his GP, where tests revealed his heartbeat was so high, he was in immediate danger of having a stroke.
Last week the 67-year-old underwent heart surgery at Sydney’s Prince of Wales hospital, but was back at the donor centre this week encouraging others to donate.
“The moral of my story is that not only do you save three lives when you give a donation of blood – you could also save your own life,” Mr Murray said.
“I started donating when I was 31 because I just wanted to give back to society, and that’s the same reason I’ve given ever since.
“However my goal was to get to 500 donations, but I’m now unable to donate anymore – so I’m urging my family, friends and other Illawarra residents to help me achieve that goal instead.”
Anyone who donates blood at the Kembla Street centre can opt to add their donation to the Phillip Roger Murray’s Savvy Donors group.
The first to do so were Mr Murray’s wife Gail and friend Lisa Kelly last week; and on Wednesday his granddaughter Brittney Zulian made her first donation.
“There’s been people in my family who’ve had cancer so by donating blood I can help others with their cancer journey,” Ms Zulian, 18, said. “It’s also good to be able to add to my grandfather’s tally.”
Ahead of World Blood Donor Day on Thursday, Wollongong Donor Centre manager Lyn Lindley urged residents to keep giving over the winter season.
“At this time of year a lot of our regular donors aren’t able to donate due to colds and flu, so we’d love new donors to contact us,” she said.
“We know one person every 24 seconds needs a blood product in Australia, so we’d encourage people to roll up their sleeves.”
Details: 13 14 95 or www.donateblood.com.au.