One of the country’s leading blood donation companies is urging donors to come forward as they warn that there is a 17,500 person shortage in their supplies.
As cold and flu season hits, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood is asking for anyone who has or hasn’t given blood before to step up over the next week.
Executive Director, Cath Stone has said that Australia needs to act now to boost its supplies of A, O and B blood groups. COVID, flooding, and the seasonal rise of colds and cases of flu have resulted in a chronic shortage of the life-saving red stuff and the industry is feeling the pressure.
“We know people are sick with cold and flu. We know people’s children are unwell and keeping donors at home. And we know many people are still having to isolate due to COVID. We also know that these circumstances are causing large numbers of appointment cancellations and no-shows,” Stone said.
“We are pleading with anyone who is well and healthy to book a donation today and encourage your friends and family to do the same.”
According to Lifeblood, the charity is currently seeing almost half of its appointments either cancelled or unattended.
“We have 15,500 blood donations booked in for the next week, but based on current cancellations and no-shows, we know a large number of these won’t result in a donation. And we still have thousands of appointments that need to be filled.
“There are patients in hospital right now who are relying on blood for cancer treatment, surgery, accidents and complicated births. If you don’t know your blood type, donating is a great way to find out. Every blood donation can help to save up to three lives,” Stone said.
Who Is Eligible to Donate Blood in Australia?
The vast majority of healthy adults in Australia between the ages of 18 and 76 will be able to donate blood. Previous restrictions, like having lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 and men who have had sex with men, have been repealed or loosened to widen the donor pool.
The only things that would limit your eligibility to give blood are:
- Having had a tattoo in the past 4 months.
- Being pregnant or having recently given birth.
- Certain kinds of medical conditions, particularly heart or blood problems.
- Taking certain medications.
- Having had certain vaccines in the past few months.
- Being a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man in the past three months.
- Having anaemia or low iron levels.
There are also certain exclusions for people who are travelling abroad, have injected drugs in the past six months, and other sexuality-related questions. You can do a quiz on the Lifeblood website which will give you an individualised answer as to whether or not you can donate blood.
All blood donations are screened for issues and the donation centre will be able to tell you your blood type as well if you don’t know it.
How You Can Donate Blood
Australian Red Cross Lifeblood is the leading blood donation service in the country. They have services in all major cities as well as some more regional cities as well.
You can book a blood donation appointment with them online, by using their DonateBlood app, or by calling 13 14 95.
Donating blood is extremely safe and staff will guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. They also provide refreshments and aftercare once you’ve donated.