By Lisa Robinson
(Australian Associated Press)
Who doesn’t love a long weekend in winter? Blood banks.
That’s the time when regular donor numbers drop because people aren’t feeling well or they’re heading out of town.
“Even if you’ve got just a small sniffle you can’t donate and the reason being is that the patients receiving the blood are quite sick and we have to be incredibly careful,” Jemma Falkenmire of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service told AAP.
About 25,000 donations are needed every week across the country, but in winter around 500 donors a day cancel appointments because they have cold and flu symptoms, she said.
To combat this, the Australian Red Cross is hoping to boost the number of new and regular donors with the launch of SMS alerts, which will notify donors when their blood has been dispatched to a hospital.
“In the trial phase [of SMS alerts] we found that it really encouraged people who feel like they’re too busy to come in and make another appointment to donate. It created some sense of urgency that their blood was actually on its way to being used,” Ms Falkenmire said.
An anxiety reduction tool kit has also been created to help first-timers overcome any fear of needles.
“Sometimes your initial bravado is overtaken by a creeping doubt as you move slowly towards the chair,” the Blood Service’s Director of Research and Development Dr David Irving said in a statement on Tuesday.
“So we’ve worked with University of Queensland to develop intervention materials that will help our donors to overcome fears or doubts and give blood successfully.”
SNAPSHOT OF AUSSIE BLOOD DONORS:
* Three per cent of the population gives blood each year
* Most prolific donors are men over 60
* New donors tend to be under 30
* The average donor gives around twice a year
* More donors are white collar workers in serious relationships
PEOPLE CAN’T DONATE BLOOD IN AUSTRALIA IF THEY:
* Are younger than 16 or older than 70.
* Weigh less than 50kg
* Lived in the UK for at least six months between 1980 and 1996.
* Have had male to male sexual activity in the past year
* Been a sex worker or had sex with a sex worker in the past year
* Recently been pregnant or given birth
* Been tattooed in the past six months or recently had a piercing
* Have ever injected drugs not prescribed by a doctor
* Have ever had a serious heart condition, blood disorder or disease
* Have a cold or are feeling unwell
* Recently had surgery or dental treatment
* Recently travelled to certain countries