Illawarra residents urged to donate due to critical blood shortage

New donor: Peter Flint, with nurse Ida Cortijo, is one resident helping take the place of regular donors sick with the flu. Picture: Robert Peet

New donor: Peter Flint, with nurse Ida Cortijo, is one resident helping take the place of regular donors sick with the flu. Picture: Robert Peet

Warilla resident Peter Flint wasted no time in responding to Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s appeal for O-negative blood.

With just one day’s supply of the ‘’universal blood type’’ left in blood banks on the east coast, the service put out a urgent call for donors on Monday.

‘’I saw a call-out on the television on Tuesday morning and I was coming into Wollongong for an appointment anyway, so I decided to make a donation,’’ Mr Flint said.

‘’It’s something I’ve thought about many times but had never made an appointment, however the situation seemed pretty serious which prompted me to finally take action.’’

The situation is pretty dire, the worst in five years in fact, due to a horror flu season that has caused many regular donors to cancel appointments.

According to the Red Cross, around 1000 NSW donors have called in sick per week this flu season. At least 650 O-negative donors are needed in the next fortnight to top up reserves.

Wollongong Donor Centre manager Lyn Lindley said while centres prepared for the flu season, there’d been a far higher number of cancellations due to the recent spike in cases.

There’s been 3285 confirmed flu cases in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District so far this year – with 2337 of those in August. That compares to 1105 cases for all of 2016.

‘’Our appointment rates have dropped due to the flu, so we really thank new donors like Peter who are able to come and assist us,’’ Mrs Lindley said. ‘’O-negative blood is the universal type given to patients regardless of their blood type in emergency situations.’’

Donors who are affected by cold and flu symptoms are able to give blood at least seven days after making a full recovery.

To make an appointment call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au

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