Australian red cross centre in Canberra
Healthy Aussies are being encouraged to donate blood and plasma to keep resources flowing to patients across the country. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

Australians who are healthy and well are being encouraged by the Australian Red Cross to roll up their sleeves and donate blood to assist patients across the country.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Chief Executive Shelly Park said in mid-March that they saw a strong response from donors at the start of the year as a way to help with the nation’s bushfire response however “those generous donors have to wait 12 weeks before they are able to donate again”.

“This means there are now fewer people able to donate over the coming weeks. Last minute cancellations are also putting a dent in blood stocks at a time when donors are in urgent need. As we all know, there is no substitute for blood. It is a critical resource, and right now, we need more people booking appointments to donate.”

Ms Park said the organisation was also preparing for the annual cold and flu season, and said the emergence of the novel coronavirus could put the nation’s blood supply under pressure should existing donors become unavailable and regular donations become disrupted.

Lifeblood NSW/ACT Media and Communications Manager Nicky Breen acknowledged there has been a drop in donations in recent weeks.

“We know people are likely to be changing their regular schedules right now due to public health advice and this may impact their ability to attend a donor centre,” Ms Breen said. “But it’s important to remember that blood and plasma donation remains absolutely vital and is excluded from restrictions to people’s movement.”

Ms Breen said the exception “is our generous donors aged 70 and over”.

“We strongly encourage people who have been advised by government to stay at home and self-isolate for their own protection to follow this advice. This applies to people aged 70 and over, or other specified age groups with chronic medical conditions.”

There are currently 500,000 blood donors in Australia but millions more who may be eligible to donate.

Blood and blood products are used to treat patients with a number of conditions in Australia including those suffering from cancer, patients undergoing surgery, people suffering from anaemia and other blood disorders as well as trauma victims and mums suffering complications in child birth. While one in three people will need blood at some point in our lifetime only one in 30 donate.

To organise an appointment call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au

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Scott Leggo
Scott Leggo