This was the beginning of a new technological age for us

With the assistance of our tissue typing and cross-matching work, hospitals were having greater success with organ transplants. This success brought an increase in demand to run tests and crunch data, and our workload was outgrowing our computer facility at Sydney University. In 1972 Dr Helen Bashir, medical director of tissue typing, secured funding from the Health Commission for one of the first computers in New South Wales - this dual tape drive PDP-8F minicomputer cost the equivalent of a modest house.

The computer allowed us to create a weekly register of renal patients awaiting transplants which we shared with hospitals both nationally and in New Zealand. This list was the basis of determining priority for transplants. We could also store donor records, produce automated reminder letters, daily blood inventory reports and more.
During the 1970s we also introduced a new test to screen all blood for hepatitis B.

As demand for blood products continued to grow, a new marketing campaign tapped into the 1970s popular culture, which shifted the blood donation narrative from a medical model to one relatable to young people. The slogan was ‘Blood donors love life’.

This was the beginning of a more proactive approach to donor recruitment. Through advertising and promotion, we moved away from the history of wartime and the Red Cross Society. We were beginning to find our own separate identity.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • We remained world leaders in testing donors’ blood with the introduction of a new test that screened all blood for hepatitis B
  • The creation of a weekly register of renal patients awaiting transplants in Australia and New Zealand was made possible thanks to the first computer in New South Wales
  • Our ‘Blood donors love life’ campaign tapped into the hippy psyche to help us recruit new donors and keep up with the rapid demand for blood products