The Australian Public Service Defence Blood Challenge
Ambassador for 2013 is Joe Guarnieri.
Mr Guarnieri, a civilian Defence employee for 20 years in a variety of roles from project management to software development, benefits from the generosity of more than 80 donors every day after being diagnosed with the inherited bleeding condition haemophilia B soon after birth.
“It doesn’t always get diagnosed straight away, but usually gets noticed during teething or when a child starts to crawl,” Mr Guarnieri said.
“Mum first knew something was up when we went to Italy and I was teething on the plane and I just didn’t stop bleeding.”
Haemophilia A and B affect about 1 in 10,000 males worldwide with varying levels of severity.
Mr Guarnieri has a severe form of haemophilia B which means his body produces less than one per cent of the clotting Factor 1X that helps to control bleeding. He requires daily injections of Factor IX concentrate to replace the clotting factor he is missing, but this was not always the case.
“There were stages in my life where I couldn’t have any blood products. I had antibodies to the product, which meant my body rejected it,” he said.
At the time, treatment was not available in Australia so Mr Guarnieri sought treatment in Sweden to get rid of the antibodies.
“When I could have blood products for the first time it was nothing short of a miracle. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that,” he said.
Factor IX concentrate is made by pooling blood and plasma donations. He takes a minimum dose of 3,000 units each day. It takes 186.6 blood donations or 83.4 plasma donations to make 3,000 units of Factor IX concentrate.
“One donation can help so many people and there are so many products that come out of plasma donations that help people with various conditions,” Mr Guarnieri said.
“The Services have always been really good at donating blood, but I would like to see more of a civilian uptake. To get more civilians donating within Defence, and also within Canberra, is what I’d like to try to help achieve this year.”
Edition 378, 10 September 2013