Fresh ink used to automatically make you ineligible to donate plasma for a period of four months. But, the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has changed these rules and are appealing for those who have had a tattoo in the last four months to help fill the 15,000 plasma donation appointments each week.
Those with new tattoos will still have to wait four months until they can donate blood or platelets, the ABC has reported.
The change in plasma donating rules comes following a study of 25,000 donors with tattoos. Conducted by Lifeblood and the University of NSW’s Kirby Institue, researchers found that those who were inked in an Australian-licensed tattoo parlour was deemed safe to donate blood plasma.
“People with tattoos are perfect plasma donors because we know they’re not afraid of needles — one of the biggest barriers for new donors donating blood or plasma for the first time,” Lifeblood Donor Services executive director Cath Stone told the ABC.
“Around 15 per cent of Australians think having a tattoo means you can’t donate blood at all, so we’re hopeful this change will help us collect the more than 15,000 plasma donations needed by Aussie patients each week.”
By relaxing these rules, Lifeblood hopes to see 17,000 extra donors of blood plasma, which in turn, should boost stocks of plasma by 50,000. According to Janine Dietrich from the Tamworth, NSW Lifeblood Centre, one in seven Australians has been tattooed, so this will make a massive impact to the work of Lifeblood.
“We definitely always need both whole blood and plasma, but … plasma … is in high demand considering we make 18 different products from plasma,” Dietrich told the ABC. “You can donate plasma more often, you can come in every two weeks if you have time and are healthy and well, so we’d love to see more people come in centre: new, return, inked.”
According to Lifeblood, over half of your blood is plasma, which is full of special proteins that can be used in 18 different ways including treating serious burns and cancer as well as protecting people with brain disorders or immune conditions.
“It makes a lot of different products for a lot of sick people,” Dietrich said. “An hour of your day, come on in and have a sausage roll and a milk afterwards.”
To find your closest donation centre, head to the Lifeblood website.