Red Cross: Blood donors urgently needed after natural disasters

The life-saving item that thousands of Australians rely on every day is in dangerous short supply. Here’s why – and what you can do to help.

Australian hospitals are desperate for blood after successive natural disasters wiped out supplies.

Floods, road closures, flu season and Covid-19 have been blamed for reducing people’s ability to donate vital blood.

Stocks in New South Wales have been particularly hard hit by the recent flooding.

Stockpiles of platelets are being shipped to the state from Queensland and Victoria, but an additional 5,500 donors are needed this week to meet national demand.

“Many residents of Sydney and residents of the northern and southern coasts of New South Wales have been affected by devastating floods; not being able to leave the house to donate blood or prioritize right now is understandable,” said Lifeblood spokesperson Kat Stone.

“In addition, colds, flu and Covid continue to sideline donors, with every other appointment not attended. Public transport disruptions and school holidays can also deter donors.

“As a national organization, we need others across the country to step up and ensure that patients continue to receive the blood and blood products they need.”

Platelets are part of the blood used to stop bleeding in accidents, emergencies, and chemotherapy.

However, they also have a shelf life of only seven days and therefore cannot be stored in a warehouse.

In a typical week, 33,000 donations are needed. About a third of these usually come from donors in New South Wales.

All blood types are required, but the issue of O-negative donors, the universal blood type used in emergencies, is particularly acute.

“We need an additional 700 O-negative blood donors next week to meet demand,” Ms Stone said.

“If you are O-negative, someone in your family may be too, so please talk to your family and ask them to donate.”

Originally published as ‘Step Up’: The Real Cause of Deadly Australian Crisis