Flu spike causes drop in blood donors

THE flu is emptying chairs at the Bendigo Blood Donor Centre.

A nation-wide spike in flu cases has lead to an increase in the number of donors cancelling or rescheduling their appointments to donate blood.

CALL FOR HELP: Empty chairs at the Bendigo Blood Donor Centre. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

CALL FOR HELP: Empty chairs at the Bendigo Blood Donor Centre. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is calling on Bendigo residents to help fill nearly 250 appointments over the next four weeks at the Bendigo Blood Donor Centre.

Department of Health data shows a 60 per cent increase in influenza cases year-to-date compared to the same period last year

Blood Service spokesperson Shae Smith said the "extraordinary" number of early flu cases could have a negative impact on blood supplies approaching the winter period, when influenza cases are expected to increase.

“It really has impacted our appointments meaning we need new donors to roll up their sleeves and take the place of those who can’t donate,” she said.

“The need for blood never takes a break and we now need nearly 250 extra donors over the next four weeks to help us enter the winter period with a solid supply of blood.

The need for blood never takes a break and we now need nearly 250 extra donors ... - Shae Smith

“Our biggest concern is that flu season hasn’t even peaked so it will be difficult to attract new donors if we leave it too late.”

Mrs Smith said blood was used by cancer patients, road trauma victims and people with blood disorders.

Blood stocks are also used for people with autoimmune disorders, those undergoing emergency surgery, new mums and their bubs, and many more sick or seriously-ill Australians.

"I would also like to encourage businesses and community groups to make a group appointment and give blood together," she said.

"Please call to inquire about our Club Red program for groups by phoning 13 14 95."

To roll up your sleeves and help prevent a winter shortagecall 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au

The Bendigo Blood Donor Centre is at 6-8 High Street.

The centre is open: Monday 8am to 7.30pm; Tuesday 8am to 7.30pm; Wednesday 12.30pm to 7.30pm; Thursday 12.30pm to 7.30pm; Friday 8am to 3pm; Saturday 8am to 3pm.

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