You can enjoy dark chocolate bunnies and eggs guilt-free this Easter, as long as you give blood to help stem a looming shortage over the holiday period.
Wollongong Blood Donor Centre spokesman Jarrod Flynn said dark chocolate contained more iron than milk chocolate or even red meat, so was a perfect Easter treat for donors.
"We encourage our donors to keep their iron stores topped up for when they donate blood," he said.
"Dark chocolate in particular is quite rich in iron so is the perfect snack to have before and after donating blood."
With two consecutive long weekends coming up, Mr Flynn urged new and existing donors to factor in a visit to the new state-of-the-art Kembla Street centre as part of their holiday plans.
"A lot of people go away on short breaks over the holidays, and that includes a lot of our regular donors, so that leaves quite a hole for us to fill," Mr Flynn said.
"At the moment we are still looking to fill about 30 appointments at the Wollongong centre between Saturday, April 19 and Saturday, April 26. We particularly need more plasma and platelet donations.
"Platelets only have a shelf life of five days so if we don't get enough donations then we'll have trouble supplying platelets for cancer and leukaemia patients after the long weekend."
Wollongong resident Peter McMahon timed his latest donation to help boost blood supplies before the long weekend.
"I'm a regular blood donor and I know that there is a need for more donors around long weekends as people are away, and also because there is unfortunately a rise in car accidents with patients needing blood," Mr McMahon said on Tuesday.
"The reality is that if people are not taking the time to donate during these holiday periods then blood products are not available for the people who need them."
Mr Flynn said many Wollongong residents had given generously since the opening of the new centre on March 25, when the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and the Mercury set a collection target of 1000 litres in one month.
With more than a week to go, 830 litres of blood has been collected in 1769 donations.
For opening hours or to make an appointment, call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au.