Andrew Brown

Coronavirus: Canberra man’s blood donations helping unlock virus mysteries | The Canberra Times

coronavirus, coronavirus, covid-19, red cross, blood donation, blood donor

Karl Irving has been donating blood for more than 40 years, but now his regular donations have never been more important. After being diagnosed with coronavirus in March, the Wanniassa resident’s donations are being used as part of a COVID-19 clinical trial to help learn more about how the virus operates. The 67-year-old contracted the virus after picking up a friend from Canberra’s train station who had been a passenger onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which had been linked with hundreds of COVID-19 cases. “I was in the same house as my wife for five days afterwards and she didn’t even get it at all,” Mr Irving said. “I was just very tired. I had my temperature checked and I never had a fever while I was infectious.” Despite developing a persistent cough during his 28 days in self-isolation at his home, when he went to hospital after his cough intensified, no other symptoms presented despite multiple tests. “They said there was the slight shadow of pneumonia on the top of my lungs but in a few days I’d be right,” Mr Irving said. After it was discovered his blood contained COVID-19 antibodies that fight the virus, Mr Irving was asked to take part in a clinical trial of more than 100 people across the country. He is one of nine blood donors in the Canberra region taking part in the trial with 18 donations made between them. Instead of regularly donating blood every three weeks, Mr Irving has been donating weekly since his role the clinical trial began “It’s a good feeling to be able to contribute to major research,” Mr Irving said. Despite the coronavirus lockdown measures that led to many parts of society shutting down earlier this year, the number of blood donations in the ACT increased compared to the same time last year. Between March 1 and July 1 this year, 24,153 blood donations were made in Canberra, compared to a little more than 21,000 in the same four-month period in 2019. Plasma donations also increased during the lockdown period, with 15,940 donations carried out, up from 13,252 last year. The number of blood donations between March and July has increased each year since 2015, while plasma donations have been rising since 2016. Lifeblood chief executive Shelly Park said despite the uncertainty brought on by coronavirus, thousands still turned up to make donations. “2020 has presented unprecedented challenges for us all, but our donors have displayed bravery, selflessness, compassion, patience, adaptability and a sense of community to ensure all Australians have continued to receive the blood products they need,” Ms Park said. READ MORE: “We saw our biggest response to a call out ever with collection records broken around the country.” Since he started donating blood as a 25-year-old, Mr Irving has made 175 blood donations, reaching the milestone this week. He said he started making donations as a way to help others, while also keeping his own health in check. “It’s something you can give without any cost except for time,” he said. “To have that regular health check as well is important for me.” Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. If you’re looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here.

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