Ban lifted, donations boom

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Donor Services executive director Cath Stone is impressed to see more people rolling up their sleeve to donate.

A whopping 21,000 Australians have signed up to become blood and plasma donors since the lifting of the UK mad cow blood donor ban.

New figures released by Australian Red Cross Lifeblood show that 20,711 people booked in for their first blood donation since Monday of last week.

The rule change means that anyone who lived or travelled in the UK for six months or more between 1980 and 1996 can now donate blood and plasma in Australia.

With 30,000 blood donors every week cancelling or rescheduling their appointments, Lifeblood is asking people to see the opportunity to donate as a winter marathon, not a sprint.

“Nearly 21,000 Australians made new appointments to donate, and we are continuing to see a surge of support, with one in six people who attended one of our centres being impacted by the rule change,“ said Donor Services executive director Cath Stone.

“It has been truly incredible to see so many generous people ready to roll up their sleeves and start saving lives as soon as the change was announced.

“Our donor centres have been buzzing with excitement welcoming so many enthusiastic new donors, many of whom have waited 20 years to donate in Australia.

“They now join a very special community of 500,000 donors, who ensure patients right across the country have access to the blood and blood products they need and on behalf of those patients, and all of us at Lifeblood, I want to thank each of them for their lifesaving gifts.

“Their precious donations may one day help a friend or family member battle cancer, save the life of an unborn baby, or help someone recover from a road trauma.”

Ms Stone said Lifeblood was seeing very high demand for appointments to donate and asked people to be patient and take the earliest donation available.

“The need for blood is constant and you will still be helping us save lives,” she added.

With the lifting of the mad cow rule, Lifeblood is continuing to look at other ways to ensure more Australians can donate blood and plasma.

“Right now, we are looking at our sexual activity rules and exploring whether we can safely reduce the wait period for plasma donations.

“Plasma is considered a modern medical miracle by many because it is the last line of defence for many health conditions, and more than half of all donations in Australia are now plasma donations.

“We are always seeking ways to increase the number of donors to continue to safely provide the amount of blood and plasma required by Australian patients.“

Book a donation at lifeblood.com.au on the DonateBlood app or by calling 13 14 95.