The Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon MP, will today formally announce 2009 the Year of the Blood Donor.
An anticipated doubling of demand for blood and blood products within 10 years has led the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to launch a nationwide recruitment drive in 2009 Year of the Blood Donor.
The Blood Service is appealing for more than 100,000 new blood donors this year, a number that is in addition to the 40,000 who registered across Australia to give blood in the week after the Victorian bushfires.
The Federal Department of Health and Ageing has contributed $2 million to assist the Blood Service to raise awareness and recruit more donors during 2009 – which also marks 80 years of Red Cross blood services in Australia.
1 in 3 Australians will need blood products in their lifetime but only 1 in 30 Australians give blood and just 3% of Australians donate each year (514,000 people).
Australian Red Cross Blood Service CEO, Dr Robert Hetzel said: “The demand for blood will grow by more than 100% over the next 10 years as our population ages and new treatments requiring blood, plasma and platelets are developed.”
“Last year, over 21,000 life-saving blood donations were needed each week across Australia,” Dr Hetzel said.
“The blood and blood products donated are used in the treatment of cancer, heart, stomach and bowel disease, accident and trauma, and to address complications in pregnancy and for babies. But while demand is increasing, the people who currently donate are ageing. Younger Australians, aged between 20-40 years are either not signing up or donating less regularly.”
“Blood supplies reached dangerously low levels three times in 2008. We don’t want that to happen again,” he said.
Year of the Blood Donor will acknowledge the life-saving role of our blood donors and encourage non-donors to find out their blood type and roll up their sleeves to give blood. A Travelling Exhibition will tour the country providing blood-type tests and highlighting the special relationship between blood donors and recipients.
“There is no substitute for blood and we need blood of every type, every day to save the lives of thousands of Australians,” Dr Hetzel said.
“We all believe that blood will be there if we need it, but right now the health of the population is riding on a very small percentage of people.”
Almost anyone aged 16-70 can give blood. To find out where your closest blood Donor Centre is and to
make an appointment please call 13 14 95 or visit www.donateblood.com.au