A Father’s Hike for Life: Blood Donation Week - 96five Family Radio

A Father’s Hike for Life: Blood Donation Week

When Scott Worgan found out his daughter had cancer, he had no idea how important blood donations would be.

By Michael CrooksFriday 14 Jun 2024NewsReading Time: 5 minutes

Central Coast dad Scott Worgan knows how crucial blood donation is to the community.
Key points
  • Scott’s 10-year-old daughter Sienna was diagnosed with leukemia in August last year.
  • Scott is walking from Inverell to Terrigal to raise awareness for blood donation.
  • “Blood would have to be one of the most purist forms of medication we have in this world,” Scott said. “Give blood one day as you may need to receive it on another day.”

Scott’s 10-year-old daughter Sienna (“SJ”) was diagnosed with leukemia in August last year, and the schoolgirl has since received 30 blood transfusions.

Scott says that his girl needs healthy blood cells to accommodate for the cancer cells in her body.

“Receiving blood has had a profound impact on Sienna’s treatment,” he said.

“If blood was not available, Sienna may not be able to have chemo to treat the cancer, given her cell count was at too much of a dangerous level for treatment.”

Walking for Blood Donor Week

So, for National Blood Donor Week, which runs from June 10 to 16, Scott is taking steps – a lot of them – to raise awareness for blood donation.

On Saturday, Scott began a “bush to beach” walk from his hometown of Inverell, in northern NSW, to Terrigal on the Central Coast, where he lives with his wife Caitlin and their three children.

The entire hike is 600km and Scott will walk via the New England Highway.

“Blood would have to be one of the most purist forms of medication we have in this world,” Scott said.

Planning on walking a “marathon” distance each day, he expects to arrive on June 19.

“My walk was inspired by doing something a little crazy to help draw attention to this important cause,” he said in a Lifeblood interview provided to Hope 103.2.

“My goal is to have 500 people sign up and join our ‘Bush to Beach for SJ’ team. But importantly, educate as many people as possible on the importance of blood donations.”

Sienna’s journey

Sienna had been complaining of “tummy pains” and “bone pains”, and had other concerning symptoms, when her parents took her to a GP last year.

The GP recommended they take her to hospital.

Scott’s 10-year-old daughter Sienna was diagnosed with leukemia in August last year.

Scott and Caitlin thought Sienna may have inherited an immune disorder from her mother, but instead blood tests revealed she had acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

“I went into shock,” Scott, an account director at an IT company, recalled. “The first few hours were the toughest in my life.”

First transfusion

On that day, Sienna received her first blood transfusion. Two days later, she received her first red cell transfusion, which “increases a patient’s hemoglobin and iron levels, while improving the amount of oxygen in the body,” according to the Red Cross.

Scott said that Sienna’s mood and health “literally changed during the course of that transfusion. She was giddy with laughter. It was such a special moment given where we were all at emotionally after learning of her diagnosis.”

“We clap every time”

At first Scott had no idea that blood transfusions were required to treat cancer patients.

“I just assumed blood was needed for situations like trauma or operations,” he said.

“Now knowing more about the process, and importantly the positive impact it’s had on her treatment, we clap every time they say she’s receiving blood – as we know what good it’ll do for her.”

But with fewer than 3 per cent of the population donating blood regularly, Scott is encouraging more to step up.

Scott is walking from Inverell to Terrigal to raise awareness for blood donation.

“Imagine if a doctor said to you, ‘You need this bag of blood to save your life, but you must find a stranger to give you that bag.’ Would you approach that stranger?’ ” he said.

“If the answer is yes, then why not approach a donor centre and give blood?

“Blood would have to be one of the most purist forms of medication we have in this world. Give it one day as you may need to receive it on another day.”

Long walk

Before he set off on his trek, Scott was optimistic about the challenge ahead.

“It’s as much as a mental challenge as it is a physical one,” said Scott, whose proposal to Caitlin, which involved his kids (including Sienna), went viral in 2015.

“But every time I start to worry about the challenge I have ahead of myself, I am quickly grounded when I am with Sienna and see her with such a smile on her face, knowing what she’s been through.”

“Grateful”

Scott and Caitlin, a makeup artist and training executive, are forever thankful to all the anonymous donors who have provided blood to his daughter.

“Words cannot explain how grateful we are,” Scott said.

“Your blood has helped our daughter’s healing. If it wasn’t for your generosity, we are really not sure what that would have meant for her.”

“Give [blood] one day as you may need to receive it on another day,” Scott said.

World Blood Donor Day

Lifeblood’s National Blood Donor Week leads up to World Blood Donor Day on June 14.

“It’s our way of recognising the impact and importance of our wonderful donors,” read a Lifeblood statement.

“This year, we are celebrating the incredible sense of community our donors have created. Each one of them has made an impact by giving life and together, they make up a life-saving tapestry that shows us we can really make a difference when we come together.”

To donate blood, register at Lifeblood.

To follow Scott on his journey, visit here.


Article supplied with thanks to Michael Crooks.

Michael is a senior journalist and former news editor of Who magazine. His work has appeared in People, Marie Claire, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, news.com.au, Qantas magazine, QantasLink Spirit, Who and The New Daily. 

Feature image: Photo by Nguy?n Hi?p on Unsplash