Australia stares down international blood shortage – for now

Australia stares down international blood shortage – for now

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospitals, medical facilities and communities is stretching blood supplies around the world.

While nations across the globe grapple with maintaining blood supplies, Lifeblood has confirmed Australian patients are still getting the blood products they need, but warns of similar pressure if Aussie donors become complacent.

“Australian donors have been incredibly generous and helped ensure our blood supply has remained sufficient, but with hospital demand for blood the highest it’s been in nearly a decade, it’s critical people don’t stop donating now,” Cath Stone, Executive Director of Donor Services said. “We’ve done well during the global pandemic, but now is not the time to let that famous Aussie generosity lapse.

“Right now, some other countries are calling for more donors and postponing hospital surgeries to manage blood shortages. While Australia is ahead of the game, we urge existing donors to consider increasing the frequency of their donations right now and for new donors to come forward to ensure this stays the case.

“Unfortunately COVID lockdowns, a change in people’s movements and lifestyles, and general social anxiety has led to many of our wonderful donors cancelling their regular donations, or simply failing to show up.

“Our message today is please come back! Book a donation, but better still, book three donations over the next 12 months and know you are potentially helping save up to nine lives,” Ms Stone said.

Australia has one of the safest blood supplies in the world. One in three Australians will need blood or blood products at some time in their life whether it’s during childbirth, while undergoing chemotherapy or surgery, or as a result of trauma such as a road accident. Blood is needed somewhere in Australia every 24 seconds, but currently only 3.5 percent of people donate blood.

She said Australia needs to double appointments before Christmas, to ensure the nation’s healthy blood supply keeps flowing. “We’d especially love to see people with O-positive and O-negative blood types book their donation soon.

“With many hospitals reporting increases in emergency presentations demand is the highest it’s been in nearly ten years,” she added.

“Now is the time for all Australians to do what we do so well – roll up our sleeves and lend an arm. Healthy and well people can visit Lifeblood donor centres safely and blood donation is considered an essential activity.”

To book a donation, first check your eligibility to donate blood then find a donor centre near you. Alternatively, call 13 14 95 or download the free Donate Blood app.