WHAT started out as an excuse to get out of work has now labelled Ann Appleby a hero.
The Albury woman has been donating her blood for more than 30 years and has helped save 750 lives.
She was recognised for her contribution at a National Blood Donor Week function yesterday.
The reason Mrs Appleby had kept donating over the years was sitting in front of her.
Dennis Ramsay had a double amputation in 2008 after being diagnosed with Group A Streptococcus Toxic Shock Syndrome and had multi-organ failure.
The retired Army Warrant Officer Class 2 had both his feet amputated after they were infected with gangrene.
“In my eyes the people who donate are heroes because they are giving life,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today and wouldn’t be with my family without blood donations.”
Mrs Appleby was recognised alongside Graeme Chugg, who has made 300 donations.
She said giving blood was more than being probed with a needle and when she donated plasma every fortnight, it was like visiting a family.
“You have a laugh with the nurses,” she said.
Mrs Appleby also offers comfort to young people who walk in the doors apprehensive about the experience.
One in three people will need blood or blood products in their life, while only one in 30 people donate.
There is a need for 27,000 blood donations a week in Australia.
Mr Ramsay encouraged all eligible people to roll up their sleeves.
“It’s the only donation that doesn’t get taxed and all it takes is time,” he said.
Red Cross Blood Service community relations officer Cathy Chapman was calling for new donors.
“We rely heavily on repeat donors,” she said.
“We need more people to roll up their sleeves, especially at this time of year with colds and flus.”
To become a blood donor call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au