Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Society of NSW celebrate nurses

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The Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Society of New South Wales held an event on Wednesday, May 8 to mark International Thalassaemia Day and present the ‘Nurse of the Year’ Award to a deserving recipient.

On the night, Vice President of the Society, Martha Gerolemou was emcee and she gave a brief welcome to everyone in attendance including patients, family, friends, sponsors, healthcare professionals, and representatives for the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

Ms Gerolemou then introduced a number of people to give speeches.

President of the Society, George Houssos
President of the Society, George Houssos.

President of the Society, George Houssos spoke first and thanked the NSW Government and everyone in attendance for their support.

Arthur Bozikas, author of the book ‘Iron Boy,’ also gave a speech and shared his personal journey and struggles with Beta Thalassaemia Major. Arthur explained how after more than 8,600 needle sticks, 700 blood transfusions, and 2,200 blood packs, he is defying the odds of the life sentence he was handed at birth. 

Josh Smith from the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

Josh Smith from the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood provided statistics on blood donations in Australia. He said 1 in 3 people will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime and 3% of Australians are blood donors.

On the topic of blood donors, Sam Matandos from Moxon Industries and James Darking from Marque Haus gave their experiences.

Sam and James.
Sam Matandos (left) from Moxon Industries and James Darking from Marque Haus.

Mr Matandos said he finds it rewarding to donate blood.

“Getting that text message a week later [after donating blood] and knowing that your blood is on its way to a hospital to help someone, makes you feel good,” he said.

“Especially for men, donating blood helps you reduce your iron levels, reduces blood pressure and reduces your chance of heart disease. It’s time for all of us to continue to create awareness of the importance and benefits of donating blood.”

James_Josh_Martha_Carley_Sam
(From left to right) James, Josh, Martha, Carley, Sam.

Mr Darking said it was Ms Gerolemou who helped him get a deeper understanding of Thalassaemia and blood donation.

“I have known Martha for about 25 years. Through our friendship I found out about Thalassemia and was lucky enough to meet other people with the condition. With that I found out how important blood donations are to the survival of Thalassemia patients, many of whom are now my dear friends. Ultimately that’s what led me to start donating blood,” Mr Darking said.

“For those that don’t donate blood you’ll never find something that requires such minimal effort with maximum reward. Knowing you’ve helped someone live a better life or just survive is an amazing experience and I encourage anyone that can donate blood to do so.”

Following the speeches, the ‘Nurse of the Year’ Award was presented by Kim Armstrong to nurse Elizabeth Harris from Prince of Wales Hospital (Bright Alliance Building). A special mention was made to runners up, Candice from the Prince of Wales Hospital and Stephen from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

“Nurses are at the frontline of care for our patients and I wanted to do something that recognises the exceptional and hardworking nurses who make all the difference,” Mr Houssos said about the award.

“I want to congratulate Liz Harris from Prince of Wales for being this year’s winner, and thank all the good and caring nurses throughout our treatment centres who support patients and their carers.”

The Society have a Red Cross Lifeblood group named Thalassaemia & Sickle Society of NSW. If you want to join the group, just let the wonderful staff at Red Cross Lifeblood know and they will include you.

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