12 May 2020

Red the colour of choice as painters roll up sleeves to donate

| Michael Weaver

Kate and Marleigh Fisher (back left) with plasma-donating painters Rick Maier, Joel Curbishley, Justin McGregor, Owen Barker and Joey Di Fronzo. Photo: Michael Weaver, Region Media.

House painters are well used to a nice off-white, a driftwood beige or perhaps a woodland green. However, the preferred colour for a cohort of painters from Canberra is now red after they decided to donate their blood and plasma to help keep a three-year-old girl alive.

When the team from Rick Maier Paint Plus heard about the plight of Marleigh Fisher during the recent Starry Night Ball, owner Rick Maier knew there was more he could do.

The Ball raised more than $45,000 to assist the Fisher family with the cost of purchasing a seizure alert dog that can preempt when Marleigh is about to have a seizure. Marleigh was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis earlier this year and also has epilepsy and a rare form of type-one diabetes that is shared by her two older brothers and Marleigh’s mum Kate.

So last week the Paint Plus team rolled up their sleeves and sat back to donate their valuable blood and plasma at the Red Cross Lifeblood donation centre at Garran.

“The motivation was going to the Starry Night Ball. I’d had a pretty bad week and a friend of mine who was also there had a pretty bad week, too,” said Rick.

“Then Kate Fisher did her speech at the Ball and we both said to each other, our weeks weren’t so bad.

“We were wearing our Make-a-Wish bracelets and decided that we didn’t want to just make a wish, we wanted to make a difference.”

Marleigh’s mum Kate Fisher said since her daughter had relapsed into prolonged seizures and was airlifted to Sydney twice this year, Marleigh had received life-saving plasma transfusions that have kept her alive.

“To go from having a little girl who was very close to not being here to drinking milkshakes with us today really is the full circle that happens when someone donates blood or plasma,” Kate told Region Media.

“Marleigh can go from not being able to lift a spoon to her mouth and being totally unresponsive after back-to-back seizures to being up on her feet and smiling and communicating again shows how valuable these donations are. This stuff really is liquid gold.

“Marleigh and I went around to all the donors here and said ‘thank you for my plasma'”, said Kate.

“Some people sit there in a chair and donate and know they are doing a good deed, but to actually see the little three-year-old girl you are keeping alive is a totally different thing, it’s really special.”

When Marleigh received her first life-saving immunoglobulin transfusion earlier this year, it had the plasma from more than 40 donors. Marleigh now requires a transfusion every three weeks. To do this, 20 people need to donate plasma.

Kate Fisher said if there are not enough donors in Canberra, they will have to travel to Sydney for the regular transfusion.

Rick Maier said the motivation to donate blood was an obvious one and he is putting out the challenge to other tradies in Canberra to do likewise.

“I really hope all the guys here that donated will continue to donate and hopefully it spurs some inter-tradie rivalry and other trades can get out there and start donating some blood or plasma,” said Rick.

“Being this close to Christmas, it is the time of the year when donations are needed most, so if you can get in there and make a donation, you even get a free milkshake!”

Kate said she is looking to form a group of regular plasma donors, called ‘Milkshakes for Marleigh’ and urges anyone who can, to register with Red Cross Lifeblood to donate.

Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson Nicky Breen said they rely heavily on people to become regular blood or plasma donors.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the generosity of our donors and it is wonderful to see the community pull together to support Marleigh,” Ms Breen said.

“Many people may be surprised to learn that one-in-three of us will need blood or blood products during our lifetime but only one-in-30 donate.

“It takes just an hour of your time and every donation can help save three lives.”

“If you’d like to know more or to book an appointment please give us a call on 13 14 95 or go to lifeblood.com.au.”

Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.

Weekly Wrap

Canberra is renowned for its restaurants, bars, arts and culture. If you want to know what's going on in and around the nation's capital, sign up for our weekly newsletter and have all the best of the Canberra community delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.