Omicron sidelines 100,000 blood donors

Omicron sidelines 100,000 blood donors

The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has issued a call for new and existing blood donors to come off the bench as the pandemic sidelines an estimated 100,000 donors.

An estimated 20 per cent of the nation’s donors have been unable to donate on any given day in recent weeks due to record numbers of people isolating or currently unwell with COVID-19.

Lifeblood spokesperson Cath Stone said it was as if winter had come early with cancellations and no shows peaking and less than one in two appointments resulting in a donation.

“Traditionally we see high numbers of no shows and cancellations during the winter months, with many regular donors unwell, but we’ve never seen numbers this high in the middle of summer,” Ms Stone said.

“It’s a real challenge for blood supplies because even in the midst of a pandemic there are still cancer patients, trauma cases, pregnant women and unborn babies who all require donated blood.

“If you are feeling well, and eligible to donate, your team needs you to get off the bench and help out now. You only need to be clear of COVID-19 symptoms for seven days to donate.

“There is no substitute for blood. Cancellations and no-shows are an ongoing problem and new donors are critical to keep supplies flowing to our hospitals.”

Around 4,500 planned donations are being cancelled – or not attended – every day. While Lifeblood encourages people to book in advance, donor centres are currently welcoming walk-ins.

“Unlike some other parts of the world where patients have been unable to get timely blood transfusions, Australia’s blood supply has remained sufficient throughout the pandemic, but we need more blood donations for this to continue” Ms Stone said.

“Our growing population is relying on just 500,000 blood donors across the country – and right now many of them need someone else to continue this lifesaving work.

“Donating blood will take only one hour of your time, and every blood donation can help save up to three lives.”

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