Podcast: Overcoming blood donor anxiety

4 May 2018

First-time blood donors don’t always make it from booking an appointment to actually showing up. To improve attendance, UQ psychology lecturer Professor Barbara Masser has continued a 15-year collaboration with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to allay donors’ fears and bolster attendance rates.

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Transcript

Barbara Masser: It’s kind of a fear of the unknown. They’ve got no idea what goes on inside those blood centres, and so they are imaging all sorts of terrible things. And I think if you ever mention to someone that you are going to donate blood, particularly for a first timer, you know people tell you horror stories about blood donation. And so this is adding to your anxiety because that could be you.

Belinda McDougall: Welcome to UQ ChangeMakers, a podcast series where we interview some of the most influential and inspiring members of the UQ community. My name is Belinda McDougall.

Katie Rowney: And I’m Katie Rowney. In this episode we chat with Professor Barbara Masser from UQ School of Psychology.

Belinda: Barbara’s research uses psychological theory to solve social problems and for more than 14 years she has collaborated with a range of industry partners including the Red Cross Blood Service. Barbara, welcome.

Barbara: Thank you and thank you for having me on.

Belinda: Now there was a concerning statistic that led you to get involved with the Red Cross. Can you tell us about that and the roles psychologists play in blood donation?

Barbara: Well I think there are many concerning statistics when it comes to blood donation. I think the fact that one-in-three of us will need a blood or blood products and around one-in-thirty of the Australian population actually donate blood shows you there is going to be a massive short fall. And yes we can actually persuade more people to roll up their sleeves and donate a small, relatively small, amount of blood.

Belinda: It is only a small amount of blood and half-an-hour of your time. Why don’t more of us do it?

Barbara: There’s a whole range of reasons. So I think primarily when people think about donating blood, if you ask people “Is donating blood a good thing to do?” pretty much everyone is going to say “Yes, it’s a really important thing to do and we should definitely do it.” But then there are things involved with donating blood that really put people off. SO we know that lots of people really don’t like needles, okay, and they don’t like the idea of a medical procedure that perhaps is unnecessary. SO normally when we have a needlestuck in us it’s because there’s something wrong or they’re trying to find something out, but this is a needle that you’re volunteering stuck in you and that’s a little bit odd and a little bit off-putting. But we can go “Well actually no, still really should give blood. It’s a good thing to do. But you know what? So there’s this needle thing going on and I’m actually really busy. I’ve got a lot of things going on in my life and I’ve got to find the time. So its half-an-hour and then I’ve got to think about the parking, and I’ve got to think about booking in.” And a culmination of those things coming together makes it just often putting together the two hard basket to go ahead and do.

Belinda: So do 100 per cent of people who make that appointment to donate blood turn up?

Barbara: No they don’t. So for first time donors we know that between 80, or historically about 80 to 85 per cent, of people who make an appointment actually present donate blood. Those there is a whole group of people there who go to the trouble of making that appointment, they’ve take that first step, they’ve gone “Yes, this is a good idea. I should do it. People need blood, perhaps people I know need blood, so I’m going to book and make an appointment.” And therefore whatever reason, and I have some ideas why not, they don’t actually present to donate blood. And that’s fine. I guess you can think, “Oh other people could donate blood. It’s not just me. It’s not just down to me to keep the blood supply up. Other people could donate blood” or “It doesn’t really matter.” But it does. Because you’ve got people who are waiting for you to present to donate your blood and you don’t turn up. So they’re stood around, they may have other people waiting which is great but they may not. So it’s a waste of their time really. So we’ve become very interested in this sort of magical, you know, 15% of people who don’t present to donate blood. Even after they’ve gone to the trouble of making an appointment.

Katie: And what do you think these reasons are that they decide not to come along even after they’ve called up and booked in that time, and made that Red Cross resource- taken that Red Cross resource I guess?

Barbara: I think that it’s a case of the, again they think about it, they’re motivated to make that appointment for a reason. Rationally we think it’s a good thing to do. We have positive attitudes towards it, people around us think it’s a good idea. And for lots of us it’s perfectly doable. You know there’s a centre nearby or there’s a mobile unit nearby so rationally everything looks good, and then you make that appointment. It’s a bit like me going to the dentist. So I have an awful fear of dentists which is awful really but I know I should do it. Every six months I make my appointment for my check-up. And as the time approaches and I get closer and closer to the appointment I think of all the reasons that ‘actually that day is not a good day. Um, I could reschedule the appointment or not show up.’ And what’s happening for me and what I think actually happens for a lot of blood donors is that anxiety is building so I’m moving from that effectively completely rational state in which I made that decision or I made that appointment into a sort of slightly anxious state which is effectively very hot. And what that means for me is that things that were influencing my decision, Decisions are not rational things, they’re not my attitude, they’re not my belief, I can actually do it. They are kind of this bubbling away anxiety and so then when you have that anxiety and you think “Oh, I really don’t really want to do this”  it’s all these rationalising thoughts come to mind which is ‘I could just cancel. I mean It doesn’t really matter. If for me if a dentist would be what a 6 months or one week. That’s not really going to matter.’ And for many people who are first time donors it is kind of a fear of the unknown. They’ve got no idea what goes on inside those blood centres and so they’re imaging all sorts of terrible things and I think if you ever mention to someone you were going to donate blood, particularly for a first timer, you know people tell you horror stories about blood donation. We’ve all got a friend, and it’s always a friend you know, they’ve all got a friend who’s experienced something really unpleasant, maybe they’ve fainted, maybe they didn’t feel very well. And so this is adding to your anxiety because that could be you. So we try to intervene, if you like, to try and allay those fears and try and provide people with mechanisms to build their confidence to actually try to donate.

Belinda: Because that’s important for the Red Cross, they need those people to turn up to those appointments. So what sort of tools or what sort of protocols have you suggested to them that might help get those people to their appointment?

Barbara: It’s really very simple. So what we wanted to do is come up with an intervention that could be easily rolled out across the business. So it couldn’t be too complicated, it couldn’t be too resource intensive. And we really came in on a number of key points. First was education about what actually goes on. So you walk through the door, what’s the first thing that happens? What are you going to see, what are you going to experience? And I think the inspiration for this coming to be very important to me was I was driving one day with my children who at that time were about eight and six, and we drove past a mobile unit on the side of the street and I said to them, because we were waiting at traffic lights, “What do you think goes on in there?” And they said, “People go in – and we never saw them come out.

[Chuckles]

Barbara: And I’m like, “Oh, you’ve got no idea what actually goes on in there. You have no idea about the process, about how long it takes, about the fact that in the end there’s a cookie and a drink. You just see these people disappear, and they never come out.” And to a child that’s quite disturbing. I mean we understand the notion of what goes on a bit better but for children they were like ‘They’re never coming out.’ And of course they do. So for me it was important to sort of demystify the process. You walk in, you check in, you sit down and you fill out the paperwork. It’s very routine, in fact almost boring I think in terms of what actually goes on. And then we wanted to talk to people, I guess in these materials about, well if you’re feeling anxious what can you do? What can you do with that anxiety and how can you turn that into something that’s not going to deter you. Because we know that being anxious when you present to donate blood can actually lead you to have a negative reaction to donating. So if you feel anxious then you’re more likely to experience something we call a ‘vasovagal reaction’ which is where you feel a bit faint, a bit nauseous. So if we can get that anxiety down you can have a much better donation experience. So what we wanted to do in our materials things that could actually address that anxiety and build someone’s self-confidence to actually attempt the process so that they know that if they started to feel ill, maybe a bit dizzy, that there were things that they could practically do while they were in the donation centre to stop having a negative reaction. So we gave them some tools, we talked them through things as simple as distraction, things like applied muscle tension where you tense your muscles which elevates what your feeling faint. Se we gave them these practical tips. So we constructed a brochure which we delivered, we ran an intervention trial obvious, and we delivered this is hard form – so we actually snail mailed it to people or we sent it via email. And then people either got a phone call from the national call centre or they didn’t in this experiment. And in the national call centre we scripted it very carefully. SO this was a ‘Hi, just ringing to see how you are,’ then we got the people in the national call centre to try and address people’s concerns. So if you say to someone who is about to donate blood ‘How do you feel?’ they’ll say ‘fine’. They probably won’t go into the details or anything. But if you say to them ‘Oh that’s good if you’re feeling fine’ because a lot of people tlak about how they feel a bit nervous to a bit anxious. So we scripted the call in this way and lo’ and behold people said “Well, actually now you mention it I’m really a bit…” and told what was going on, so we scripted responses about how people can overcome their anxiety as they approached it.

Katie: And what were the outcomes of using these two simple tools?

Barbara: They were really very promising. SO in every condition whereby we had a brochure and a phone call, or a phone call in instances, we actually got a positive result. But our best result came in the condition where we gave people an electronic brochure, so just an email that they could click through. And they got a call from the national call centre, so we managed to increase attendance rates in the trial from 85% in our controlled condition up to 92% which for something that costs pretty much nothing, is just to change in business as usual practice we were pretty happy with it. So were the blood service. So after the results from that trial they rolled it out nationally and took… I guess they were encouraged by the fact that pretty much either one of those tools had some benefit. And in fact in January this year (2018) we got some more good news about that particular trial which is the… when they did an evaluation they were noticing something really odd in the vasovagal reaction rates amongst first time donors in that they dropped. And they looked across the business and they found the only thing that could be accounted– it could be attributed to is the roll out to this particular intervention. So not did we get more people turning up but those first time donors were suffering less adverse events. Again, numbers aren’t massive but if you roll that out you can sort of generalise that out across the whole blood service then for pretty much nothing more than a little tinker with standard procedures we’ve actually got quite a significant result in making the first time donor experience better.

Belinda: And how important is that first time experience for ongoing blood donations.

Barbara: It’s absolutely critical. If you don’t- if you have an adverse reaction to your first time donation you’re very likely not to come back. And first time donor retention is a massive issue anyway, so you have anywhere between 30-40% of people who give a blood donation don’t comeback within two years. But if you have an adverse event when you donate for the first time I guess it makes logical sense. You know, yo’ve done somehitng – it wasn’t good – you’re probablynot going to go back and do it again.

[Static noise]

Katie: Our interview with Barbara got us curious what it was like for first time blood donors. We asked around the office and eventually convinced Katrina, one of our digital marketing officers, to come into the city here in Brisbane and donate blood for the first time. Katrina, how you feeling?

Katrina: I’m feeling okay. We’ll see how I’m feeling in 10 minutes’ time. Um, I have an appointment for 11:15.

Receptionist: Do you have some ID with you?

Katrina: Uh, yes.

Receptionist: We’ll need you to fill out all sections; A, B, and C.

Katrina: Okay. [Paper shuffling] Alrighty. Part A. Have I ever donated blood before? That’s a big NO.

Katie: And why have you never donated blood before?

Katrina: Uuuuhh, I don’t love needles. [Chuckles] I’m not the biggest fan of needles. I do get a bit shaky. [Reading] Have I ever been advised not to give blood? No, that’s just a personal choice that I’ve made.

Katie: Before you came here what did you think would happen when you get here?

Katrina: I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it, no. I guess I always thought I should but then it was the community obligation versus personal preference to not have needles stuck in me that I didn’t need to have stuck in me. So I’m just filling in all of the conditions, illness or otherwise.

Katie: So far nailing it.

Katrina: Yep, totally good. Really no reason not to donate blood at the end of the day. [Reading] Medical questionnaire. Am I feeling healthy and well, other than the nerves? Yes.

Katie: And don’t forget to keep drinking your water.

Katrina: Mmhm.

Katie: Because we want to get you up on that Fastest Bleeder Wall. It’s not a goal you knew you’d had, but it’s a goal I’m setting for you, Katrina.

Katrina: It’s a new goal.

Red Cross Staff Member: Katrina!

Katrina: Hi.

Red Cross Staff Member (Sally): Hi, my name is Sally. How are you?

Katrina: Good thanks. [Munches on pretzels]

Sally: Good. Now, first time donating today?

Katrina: It sure is.

Sally: Perfect. This is just antibacterial, okay? So just relax.

Katie: Just think about all the chips you’re going to eat afterwards, don’t think about blood.

Sally: Oooh, party pie, or a sausage roll.

Katie: Yep, and the cups of tea. Um, the fact that we’re doing this on work time. All the lives your saving, yeah yeah, whatever.

[Laughs]

Katrina: I think when you told me they were taking 500ml’s of the blood.

Katie: But you’ve got heaps of it.

Katrina: I know, but then I was looking at my 600ml water bottle sitting on my desk...

Katie: Don’t do that.

[Sally laughs in the background]

Katrina: That’s… a lot … of liquid.

Katie: And you’re done. Was it that bad?

Katrina: The needles in?

Sally: It’s in.

Katie: It’s in!

Katrina: Okay.

Katie: That’s it. That’s the hard part.

Katrina: So now it’s just sucking me dry.

Katie: Just like a vampire but more professional. And they give you a meal afterwards so I really don’t know what you are complaining about.

Sally: Okay, we’re on our way.

Katie: Look at that. Delicious juicy blood.

Sally: There it is.

Katrina: Wow, that’s coming out quick.

Katie: And you didn’t even notice it happening.

[Time skip to after procedure]

Katie: How did it feel?

Katrina: Much better than expected.

Katie: Okay, yeah. So it was basically a pain-free 8 minutes and then the last minute or two was a bit more uncomfortable but not, like life ending.

Katrina: No.

Katie: Yeah. So are you going to give blood again?

Katrina: Yes. Yeah, it was definitely a lot easier than I thought.

Katie: And you’ve got an excuse not to do any gym for a couple of days.

Katrina: Yeah. I think she said a couple of weeks.

[Laughs]

Red Cross Staff Member:  Alright darl’. Your veins acid are suitable to turn into plasma so you can come back in four weeks to do that.

Katie: And you were complaining about your veins, and look at that.

Red Cross Staff Member: Beautiful.

Katie: Plasma. Beautiful veins.

Red Cross Staff Member: Beautiful veins. You don’t see that on every street corner do ya’?

[Laughs] [Static noise]

Belinda: So you’ve been quite successful with the blood donation study and increasing or allaying people’s fears, can this now be related to other areas in donation?

Barbara: Yes. So we work across the entire breadth of the donation experience. So anything from recruitment, which is primarily where anxiety is the major driver thorough to retention of blood donors, and everything and anything between. We’re also really interested in people who had deferred, so if you’ve deferred for a short period of time maybe you had a tattoo or a piercing, you know, you can’t donate for a certain period of time. But chances are you might not come back. So how can we encourage people who’ve been deferred for a really short period of time to come back and donate again. SO we worked across pretty much every aspect of donor recruitment and retention in blood, whole blood, which is what we traditionally associate when we talk about blood donors. But we’ve also done an awful lot work in plasma donation, which is a real growth area in terms of blood product donation. We desperately need more people to donate plasma. And the barriers to that behaviour are somewhat different to whole blood donation.

Belinda: Are these the same barriers that people face with living donations, so stem cells or organ donation.

Barbara: They’re probably closer but they’re not same. So the stem cell donation, organ donation, you see if you like, are a harder behaviour again. Plasma donation obviously takes place in the same location as whole blood donation but the process is a little bit different because you are having your red blood cells returned to you and some people don’t like that.  They don’t like the idea, you take the product, by all means take it away but don’t return put it back into me.’ So we’ve done a lot of work around looking at what people think about the return process, what they think about the process as a whole, and again working with those donors to encourage them to return, and in fact the research we’ve conducted in Australia are looking at voluntary plasma donor, so these are people who don’t receive any payment. Obviously that’d the way we do blood and blood product donation in this country. The body of work we’ve done here is, well, the most substantial bodies of works still in the world – looking at how to encourage plasma donation in that context.

Belinda: So they take the red blood cells out. Why do they put it back in?

Barbara: It means that you are retaining more of yourself, if you like. And so putting the red blood cells back in obviously you’re not stripping out the iron from the blood supply. So generally it’s a less intense process on the body and lots of donors who donate plasma speak of that. They speak of the fact that they prefer to donate plasma over whole blood. It also means you can donate more frequently. So you can only donate whole blood once every 12 weeks, but you can actually give plasma in this country every two weeks. SO the opportunity to give is more frequent and people like that.

Katie: How did your partnership with the Red Cross begin?

Barbara: It began a long time ago now. So a colleague of mine in the School of Psychology at the time was doing some volunteer work for the blood service. She was helping redesign their donor questionnaire, and I think the blood service in Australia is one of the few blood services around the world that’s had a keen interest in donor behaviour for a very long time. So we are going back 15 years now. And they wanted increasingly know more about their donors, and at that point they didn’t really have social scientists on staff so they were interested in working with us in a consultancy manner to see if we could help with some of the projects. And it really just grew and grew from there. They wanted to know more and more about different aspects of donor behaviour, and so we started working more in a traditional research capacity and that led to Linkage Grants, and I’ve been fortunate to have three Linkage grants with the blood service over the years, and we just became– or I just became more and more involved with what was going on in their organisation, and doing applied work in very complex, very different to doing basic science not only do you have to think about the things to take into account when you are designing basic experiments for example, but you actually also have to think about the lived reality of how this might pan out should it actually go across the organisation. So you have to work with lots of different divisions and you have to work with lots of different to get an understanding of their world. And it’s fascinating, absolutely fascinating. SO I became more and more interested in it and spent more and more of my time doing it, and I hope – I think– the blood service saw this was a beneficial partnership maintain. And so that led to the creation of the Australian Red Cross Blood Services sharing donor research which was advertised through UQ.

Belinda: And the futures looking very bright because you’ve had a promotion and such.

Barbara: Yes.

Belinda: Can you detail that?

Barbara: Yes, so this is a really good opportunity. So this is a joint chair between the blood service and The University of Queensland and I have a vision, as I think that we all do, for where I would like to take that. So we’ve done a lot of work in blood and blood product donation but as yiou look around the medical area I guess you can see that donors are all over the place. And these are people who are giving part of themselves to help others become well. And yet we don’t really hear about the donor. We assume that the product just turns up on the bench or the bedside, or wherever, and it all goes from there. And we know a lot about transplant surgery and we know a lot about the recipient of the transplants, but we don’t ever hear that much about the donor. But the donor is an incredibly important part of the process. Without the donor we have nothing else to do. So why don’t we hear about the donor? Why don’t we hear about the donors well-being? SO what can we do to enhance the well-being of the donor in terms of their experience and in terms of what they want to give someone else, and that’s really what I want to focus on now. The first place that we’re really gonna go is to another area of the Blood Service, which is looking at bone marrow donation. So they are house within the Blood Service, the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and looking at what we can do there to help them in the process. And again it’s, you know, you work in this area for a long time and you think you’ve got a grip on it, and you start talking to some people and you’re like I know very little about what you do. So there’s a massive gain I’ve got to make on my knowledge, but also in spreading that knowledge around. So looking at how they are interact with donors, looking at international best practice and what we can learn from international and their best practice to bring back to blood, and to bring back to plasma, so we can apply that knowledge, and really getting those sectors talking to each other. We’re also looking at other forms of living donation, so living organ donation – not deceased organ donation, because that again is a very complex area in terms of there’s a lot of different decisions to be made there that are incredibly challenging. So looking at for example, sibling donors of stem cells and there’s lots of complications in those relationships, as you can imagine, that sort of becoming a stem cell donor for a sibling is a little bit different to becoming a stem cell donor for somebody you don’t know perhaps. And again looking at how we can make sure the donor is at the forefront of our thinking when we design these processes because they’re humans too and we really need to take how they feel about what they’re doing into account.

Katie: A lot of your research hinges around fear and overcoming fears. Is there anything you’ve had to overcome?

Barbara: Dentists.

[All chuckle]

Katie: Have you managed that yet?

Barbara: Yes, well I have. I’ve been very fortunate to have a dentist on campus, I highly recommend her, who knows I’m terrified and she’s very, very nice to me, and I go and see her, and she’s lovely. But it’s taken a long time and I think it’s sort of the experience and that absolute anxiety, so knowing it’s someone I should do but really, really not wanting to do it. Like I’d run if she let me. But she doesn’t, she locks the door which I think is rude, but anyway. But knowing I should do it really gave me a better insight to blood donors because I’m one of those very fortunate people that it never bothered me to donate blood. It felt great, I got that real warm glow afterwards, I felt like I’d done something for society, and I got my choccie bicky, and I’d gotten everything, and it was great. So I couldn’t… that didn’t hit home for me, but then when I thought about it, ‘Well actually… you can’t do dentists.’ And that’s what it’s like for a lot of people. They want to do something, they want to help, they want to donate blood to help, perhaps help a family member, a friend, they just think that they can add into the, if you like, the collection that will help. But the fear and the anxiety is just overwhelming and it gave me a better insight I think into what they may experience.

Katie: People tend to believe that there is some in line behind them to donate if they don’t make that appointment. However blood does have a limited lifespan for use. Can you tell me more about that?

Barbara: Yeah, so it certainly does have a limited time span and it’s 42 days for red blood cells, that’s all that they last. And I think that people think that somewhere in the country there’s a massive blood bank full of bags and bangs that can just be dispatched, but we run a real risk if we don’t continually get donors through the door that we may run short of certain types of blood. So for example if you think about O-Negative blood, that’s the so called Universal Donor that can be transfused into everyone, so there’s always a higher demand for that type of blood than perhaps other types of blood. But the issue is, of course, is there are a really limited number of people in the country that have O-Negative blood. And so what we see is that people really don’t understand, perhaps see the urgency. So this isn’t that there is a massive shortage tomorrow or whatever, but that if things happen that means people don’t come to donate, or the opportunities for donation are somewhat limited. So for example the Easter period there’s always a call for people to come forward and donate, and that’s because they want to maintain that supply. And if you don’t have that then you run the risk that, you know, Australia is known for its safe and secure supply of blood, that that  may not eventuate. So that limited time span of blood I think is something that is really being emphasised now, really to increase people’s awareness of it. And we see evidence of that, the importance of that in some of the responses to the text messages that now get sent when blood is dispatched, because obviously that gives you that little kick, you know. You see that your donation is gone somewhere, it’s actually going to do some good, the reason you’ve donated is actually coming to fruition. And that makes you feel good. But the other response we often see is that people say, “It’s gone really quickly.” You know, “It’s only eight days ago that I donated” or seven or six or five. “They needed that urgently” and that really reinforces the urgency that is keeping people coming through the door to donate blood time-and-time again.

Katie: If I go and donate blood, I sit down and I go through the processes, I get my cookie at the end, what happens to my blood after it’s taken from me.

Barbara: Oh, they do all sorts of wonderful things. So obviously, there’s a lot of processing that needs to take place and that’s done at a number of different places around the country. And then, quite literally, it waits for the call to come in from a hospital, or other places that are going to need your blood to keep just in case something happens. And obviously emergency departments always need to have a ready stock of blood. So it’s, you know, minimal processing, making sure it’s absolutely as it should be so that the safety of the patient is always at the forefront at everyone’s mind here. So, this blood has to be great and it has to be ready to be transfused, but it is very quickly dispatched and sent out to the hospitals.

Belinda: And you talk about emergency departments there that interestingly enough, they are not the highest percentage user of blood which when I read that statistic was quite interesting. Who uses that blood more than anyone else?

Barbara: It goes to a lot of different groups. I think we tend to think when we think of blood donation we think of accident victims, or we think of young babies are the other key that comes to mind. I think it’s cancer patients, of the top of my head I can’t be 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure that the most blood or blood products goes towards the treatment of cancer patients and it’s quite incredible that what can be achieved with the use of blood and blood products.

Katie: One of the things I find really interesting is the competitive aspect to it. So my husband is a very dedicated donor. He was in a serious accident when he was 19 and needed blood to survive at that stage. So he is a regular donor and he loves the fastest bleeder section that’s on the wall of the donor van. So he’ll go in chugging water, ready to just get up on that wall and beat all the other scores. Is that something you see a lot of?

Barbara: Certainly, we’ve seen some evidence of that. I mean it’s interesting you note that he’s actually don… he’s received blood products because we actually also see a strong, if you like, family or a friends connection to blood donors and it’s not been terribly well researched. But obviously there does seem to be some sort of social network factor that comes into play that, you know, if it’s happening in your family, if your mum and dad were a donor for example, you’re more likely to become a donor. And similarly if you’ve received blood products then often that motivates you if you can or others around you to donate blood. But the competitive aspect is really interesting and certainly it’s consistent with some of the theory’s that we sort of draw on in this area about why some people would like to donate. So there is a competitive aspect and it’s more typically seen amongst men actually. The idea of competing against other people to be the fastest bleeder, in this particular example, is really very prevalent and it’s an interesting aspect. It’s difficult to pull on though  in terms of an intervention because obviously safety is absolutely key, we don’t want to lose too much blood too quickly because that wouldn’t end well. You also don’t want to encourage bad behaviour. You don’t want people competing in terms of donations because you need them to stick by the 12 week deferral period and engage in safe behaviours. So it’s an interesting aspect, it’s one that we do battle with about how to engage with really well and also encourage blood donation.

Belinda: So you spoke about the website. Is that a great place to go to find out more information about giving blood and breaking down some of those barriers?

Barbara: Yeah look, it’s a fantastic resource. So the Australian Red Cross Blood Services website, which is donateblood.com.au, is a fantastic resource. It has all sorts of information, frequently asked question about donating blood, and you can also go on there and ask some question on whether you think you might be eligible. So for example, if you’ve been to certain countries then you’re not eligible now but you will be in a very short period time. I mean you should definitely try then. But also all sorts of bits of information, the website goes beyond that and it talks about all the research we’re doing to help blood donors. So it’s an incredible resource and really if you’d like to find out more about donating blood that’s the place to go. And if you’d like to talk to someone they have a number there that you can call and have a chat about whether you could donate blood potentially, and where you can go to donate blood. So on the website you can put in your postcode and it will show you where the nearest venue is. So there’s all sorts of resources there that are fantastic if you think you might be interested in donating blood.

Belinda: So we’re going to close the episode with a short segment called spare change in which we get to know you a little bit better with some rapid-fire questions, you ready? Here we go.

[Cash register noise]

Belinda: What’s the one fact that listeners wouldn’t know about you?

Barbara: I’m the first in my family to go to university.

Belinda: What is the one question you are sick of being asked?

Barbara: Do you donate blood?

Belinda: We asked that one. Okay, if you could go back in time by 10 years what advice would you give your younger self?

Barbara: To run your own race. So not to be deterred from doing what you’re passionate about and to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Belinda: Who or what is your biggest influence in life?

Barbara: Two high school teachers actually. So I was taught by a guy called Sean O’Brien who’s actually quite a famous English poet now but of course I didn’t know when I was at highschool. He was just my English teacher. And the second person Nancy Wall, who was my economics teacher at highschool and the reason that I’ve chosen them both is that they were just passionate. They were mesmerizing. When they talked the passion that they had for their subject and their… just love of everything that they were doing. It’s incredible because these were highschool teachers, and why were they so interested? But that passion and that absolute.. kind of… want to know more and more and to help other people learn I found just… it made me want to be what they are. I’m not a poet and I’m not an economist but I just love teaching and I love researching and I love my subject.

Belinda: Perfect. So the last question is if you had to choose a piece of music that would best describe you which song would you play?

Barbara: It would be Red Right Hand by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

Belinda: Well that’s the end of another episode of UQ ChangeMakers. If you want to learn more about Professor Barbara Masser and the Red Cross Blood Service visit our website at uq.edu.au/changemakers, where you can also subscribe to ChangeMakers Magazine. I’m Belinda McDougall.

Katie: And I’m Katie Rowney. Our podcast was produced by Michael Jones and Jessica Mcgaw. If you enjoyed this episode, tell your friends or colleagues, leave a review on iTunes, or email us at changemakers@uq.edu.au. If you want to create change, tune in next time when we interview another inspiring member of the UQ community. Thanks for listening.

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