Australian Red Cross Issues Urgent Plea To Boost Blood Donations

29/12/2015 12:27 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Doctor/ Nurse holding blood bag.

The Red Cross is urgently calling on Aussies to roll up their sleeves and give blood ahead of New Year's Eve in a push to buoy flagging supplies for cancer patients.

The Australian Red Cross' Blood Service said on Tuesday it wanted an extra 1,000 NSW donations in the lead up to NYE.

It said most needed was a substance called platelets, which it described as "a short-lived, constantly-required blood component used mainly by cancer patients".

Platelets only have a shelf life of a few days and are crucial to prevent internal bleeding in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

It can't be stockpiled over holiday periods, meaning donors are needed every day.

While the Red Cross' focus is NSW, the service is this week aiming to bolster supplies across the country in the lead up to 2016.

By Thursday night, it wants an extra 1,500 donations from NSW and the ACT, 1,300 from Victoria and Tasmania, 1,500 from Queensland, 550 from South Australia and the Northern Territory, and 400 from Western Australia.

The plea follows similar shortfalls over the festive season overseas.

The group's spokeswoman, Jemma Falkenmire, said the additional doners would ensure sufficient supply for the new year.

“For seriously ill Australians, a blood transfusion is the only pint they’ll get to enjoy this New Year -– but it’s one that will let them spend more time with their family and friends," Falkenmire said.

She said the need for blood "never took a break".

"An hour of your time giving blood this New Year’s Eve or the 2nd, 4th and 5th of January could mean a lifetime to someone else,” Falkenmire added.

The call for urgent action comes after personnel from the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) were forced to make 300 blood donations earlier in the year after a dramatic fall in those giving blood.

At one point in 2015, there were around 900 people a week cancelling their donations in NSW.

Tuesday's Red Cross call-out also coincides with a horror festive season on the nation's roads -- a common reason for blood transfusions -- with 19 people so far losing their lives.

Six people were killed in smashes on Boxing Day, making it the worst day during the holiday period.

The Red Cross' Shaun Inguanzo said it was essential to lift the number of blood donations fast.

“One in three of us will need blood at some point in our lifetime ... We’re urging people to give blood during this critical time of need," he said.

Recently, NSW resident James Harrison was credited with saving more than 2 million lives as a result of donating blood every week for 60 years.

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