Eating dark chocolate could be the key to preventing a national blood shortage this Easter.
That's the message from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, which urgently needs an extra 8000 people to give blood this Easter.
The Wollongong blood bank is 100 donations short of what is required to treat patients.
Blood service spokeswoman Kathy Bowlen said dark chocolate contained more iron than milk chocolate and even red meat, making it the perfect Easter treat for potential donors.
"It's important as a blood donor to eat iron-rich foods, especially after donating," she said.
"Dark chocolate contains around three times more iron than red meat. And if you have it with a glass of orange juice, you'll absorb it better, too," she said. "This Easter we'll need all the help we can, so we're encouraging people to eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, especially if they're planning on giving blood."
Ms Bowlen said Easter was a tough time for the blood service, with many regular donors unable to give blood.
"Most Australians will take a holiday but, unfortunately, the need for blood never takes a break," she said.
"We still need an extra 8000 people to give blood between March 30 and April 5 to ensure we have enough of the shortest-lived blood products.
"Platelets are vital to the treatment of cancer patients. They only last for five days so we can't stockpile them, and we'll be relying on the generosity of people who can spare an hour of their time to donate blood."
One in three Australians will need blood in their lifetime but only one in 30 actually donate.
Wollongong Donor Centre is open on Saturday and from Tuesday, April 2 to Friday, April 5.