Australians are known to rally in times of need. This need has never been greater than in this current COVID-19 pandemic. The social, financial and emotional impact has been felt worldwide. In order to contain and defeat this virus, Australians will need to support and look after one another. One important and essential way to achieve this is by donating blood.
Blood collection centres are seeing an increasing number of cancellations and appointment reschedules to a later date. Around 900 donors are cancelling their appointments each day. At the start of 2020, there was a strong response from blood donors as a response to the devastating bushfires, and this response has been seen previously during other major disasters. Unfortunately, those who donated during the bushfires were required to wait 12 weeks before they could donate again. Blood is like milk and the blood collected cannot be kept forever. Adding to this is the number of people following the stay-at-home advice that are less inclined to donate blood. If the COVID-19 virus were to spread further, it would lead to fewer people being eligible to donate blood. The combination of these factors has placed a real strain on the blood supply throughout Australia.
Blood and plasma products are needed every day to support cancer patients, new mothers and babies, people with immune deficiencies, and people who need surgery or have suffered trauma. In Australia, around 500,000 people regularly donate blood, but it is estimated that one million others may be eligible to donate.
All states and territories in Australia deem blood plasma donations as a vital activity, and travel and venue restrictions do not apply. Normally, if you are aged between 18 and 76, weigh over 50 kg and are healthy you may be eligible to donate. However, adhering to government advice, people that are aged over 70 should postpone their donations until further notice.
There is no evidence that coronavirus or other respiratory viruses can be transmitted by blood transfusions. Lifeblood’s strict screening means that people who are unwell cannot donate and during the pandemic/ It has introduced new rules protecting the safety of staff, donors and patients. This is in line with the recent recommendations from the world health organisation.
- Anyone who has returned from overseas is unable to donate for 28 days after return
- People have who have been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients need to wait 28 days before donating
- People who have been confirmed as having COVID-19 will not be able to donate until they are cleared by the doctor
- People with mild cold like symptoms will not be able to donate until they are fully recovered
Lifeblood’s full staff adheres to strict sanitation protocols including using single use cerebral collection kits, wearing and changing gloves, and wiping down services after every donation. In addition to these usual hygiene practices, additional measures have been implemented due to the COVID-19 outbreak including;
- Increased disinfecting of frequently used items
- Providing additional hand sanitiser for donors
- Additional daily disinfection of all areas including floors, refreshment areas and reception
- Restricting non-donating visitors, only staff and owner allowed in
- Implementing social distancing in our centres, wherever possible, ensuring all donors are at least 1.5 m apart
All donation centres are strictly regulated by the therapeutic goods administration. A specific code sets out the requirements of staff, premises, collection procedures, quality control and testing. As you can see, every precaution has been made to ensure your valuable and much needed donation is safe. Your donation could be life changing for someone who needs blood. If you are a regular donor or ever contemplated donating, now would be a great time to contact the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.