Thousands of blood donors are being urged to roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life over the Christmas period.
An extra 830 donations per day are needed nationwide between Friday and the start of January to meet hospital demand, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood says.
The blood service on Tuesday launched its annual Christmas donation drive, appealing for an additional 10,000 people to give blood or plasma by January 2.
One in three people will need blood in their lifetimes yet only one in 30 people donate, Lifeblood chief executive Stephen Cornelissen said.
“This is the time of year when the demand for blood doesn’t stop,” Prof Cornelissen said.
“We all might stop and slow down but certainly the demand for blood and blood products don’t.”
Lifeblood’s Cath Stone said it had been a year of unprecedented demand for blood products, particularly in major-city hospitals.
A ready supply of one component, platelets, is particularly critical as stocks only last for seven days.
“Trying to find the perfect gift within a budget will be stressful for many this festive season,” Ms Stone said.
“Giving blood and plasma doesn’t cost anything, but for a patient, it will be life-changing.”
One donation can help three people and one plasma donation can be turned into 18 different treatments, Prof Cornelissen said.
Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas on Tuesday urged the community to answer the call and donate blood.
“As we think about Christmas and new year, it’s a really important time to think about the greatest gift of all – that is the gift of life and one so many of us can give by making a donation,” she told reporters.
People including trauma victims, cancer patients, mothers and newborn babies all rely on blood donations at this time of year.
“So after opening your own gifts on Christmas Day, why not take the opportunity to visit a lifeline centre and donate,” she said.
NSW police officers have been contributing to the blood donation push through the annual Bleed4Blue campaign, set up after the stabbing of an officer in Sydney on Australia Day in 2018.
The three-month campaign involving police, their family and friends runs until the end of February and challenges officers nationwide to compete to see which state and territory’s force can donate the most blood.
William Ton and Peter Bodkin
(Australian Associated Press)