Australian Red Cross Calls for Blood Donations Over Christmas

December 21, 2020 Updated: December 21, 2020

Australians are being called to support the national blood bank, which Red Cross says is facing significant shortages this Christmas period.

According to the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Australian blood stocks require an additional 6,800 blood donations between Christmas and New Year to avoid a national shortage over the festive season.

“It can be a challenging time for blood supplies as the need for blood doesn’t stop over the holiday period,” Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Executive Director Cath Stone said on Tuesday.

“Timing is critical and the period between 26 December and 2 January is when platelet stocks are most under pressure,” she said.

Platelets, which are used by cancer patients to recover from their treatments, require the blood donations of four people to make just one dose. They also have an incredibly short shelf life lasting only five days, and are unable to be stockpiled for long weekends or busy periods.

The Red Cross explains that Australia requires 31,000 donations every week to help patients in times of trauma, major surgery, cancer treatment, and pregnancy. O+ or A+ blood type are the most needed as they are the most common blood types in Australia, with 71 percent of the Australian population being one of the two.

As a result, Red Cross is asking people to factor in blood donation into their plans this festive season with many blood donor centres around the country remaining open between the critical Christmas and New Year period.

“Donating blood is one of the most powerful gifts you can give. For some, it may give them more time with loved ones or improve their quality of life; for others, it could quite literally save their life,” Stone said.

For those in New South Wales, Red Cross told AAP that people in Wollongong, Sydney, and the Central Coast of NSW can still donate blood after a coronavirus outbreak in the state, as long as they meet certain criteria.

However, donors from the Avalon outbreak area have been advised to remain at home, which is in keeping with a government directive.

Australians continued to donate blood during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus (novel coronavirus) pandemic, Stone noted in November.

However, there has been a trend of decreasing appointments and increasing cancellations which they found worrying in November.

“Blood donation is essential,” Stone said in November.

“Our donor centres are safe to visit, with strict social distancing, cleaning and donor eligibility measures still in place. Only healthy people are eligible to give blood, and we have introduced even more stringent wellness checks before appointments, including temperature checking,” she said.

AAP contributed to this article