Holly's final plea inspires rush of blood donors
GRAFTON woman Holly Butcher's call to donate blood, made in her final letter to the world, has inspired 5000 new donations.
Red Cross Blood Service spokeswoman Jemma Falkenmire said there had been a spike of 1000 new donations in the week after Holly died on January 4 and 4000 new appointments made to donate blood.
In Holly's letter, which she wrote before her death from rare cancer Ewing's sarcoma and had released after she died, her final paragraphs were a call to donate blood.
"Oh and one last thing, if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood," Holly wrote.
"It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save three lives!
"That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple.
"Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year - a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life."
Ms Falkenmire said some donors were from Holly's hometown.
"We've got quite a connection here in Coffs Harbour," she said.
"I sit next to a girl who's Holly's cousin and we've had lots of phone calls from local people saying she's inspired them to donate blood.
"We've had people from Grafton come into the blood centres in Coffs Harbour and Lismore, saying they've read Holly's letter."
Holly's call for blood donations has also re-ignited calls for the Red Cross to begin collecting blood in Grafton again.
Two years ago it halted visits from its mobile blood collection unit because it had enough whole blood from other sources.
The Red Cross said the way blood products were used made blood plasma a more valuable product and it changed its collection methods accordingly.
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A school friend of Holly, Tayla Gauci, made the trip to Coffs Harbour to donate, inspired by Holly's call and also the fate of family friend Don Scott, whose cancer treatment also involved extensive blood transfusions.
"I made a special trip to go down and give blood," Ms Gauci said.
"From now on I'll go down every school holiday and make a donation.
"While I was there the person who was dealing with me said she had five people that week who said they were there because they had read Holly's letter. And there were four other people taking blood at the same time."
Ms Gauci said Holly had always been a special person.
"When I first met her, we were in Year 4 at school and she was the popular girl who everyone wanted as a friend," she said.
"I thought she would never talk to me, but she spoke to me and was really welcoming. She seemed to have time for everyone."
Another Grafton woman inspired by Holly, Tegan Morgan, raised a change.org petition, calling on the Red Cross to reinstate mobile blood van visits to Grafton.