Challenge gets an injection of young blood

Wollongong Blood Donor Centre is benefiting from an injection of young blood, thanks to some inter-college rivalry at the University of Wollongong.

Students from four residences - Weerona College, Campus East, International House and Kooloobong Village - are competing against each other as part of a blood donation challenge.

Academic community student development assistant Todd Roberts has been leading the charge at Weerona College and on Monday, he joined five other residents at the new donor centre in Kembla Street.

"I started donating as soon as I was eligible at the age of 16," Mr Roberts, 20, said. "This is my seventh time and it definitely gets easier each time.

"I'm encouraging other students to donate blood as part of this challenge because I think it sets a good example.

"It shows that students at Wollongong University want to do something positive for the community and there's nothing more important than donating blood, and helping save lives."

Three of the students were giving blood for the first time, including civil engineering student Stephanie Dias.

"I'm nervous - I've got a bit of a phobia of needles - but I'm also really excited and happy that I am doing it," she said.

Blood donor centre spokesman Jarrod Flynn said the college competition, which started on January 1 and will run till the end of October, was part of a push to get younger donors.

"Young people are underrepresented in our blood donor panel and it's great to see these students bucking the trend," he said. "We'd really like to see more young men in particular as they have higher blood volume, and great veins for plasma and platelet donations."

Mr Flynn said the university students were currently ramping up their efforts to help the centre reach a collection target of 1000 litres of blood in one month.

The Red Cross Blood Service and the Mercury put out the challenge to the community on March 25 after the official opening of the new $2.2-million blood donor centre.

In the past week, 600 donations have been made or 282 litres of blood.

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