WAGGA’S blood supplies are buckling under the weight of a horror flu season that has left many regular donors unable to help the cause.
According to the Red Cross Blood Service, around 28 per cent of regular donors have been cancelling their appointments in recent weeks, with a late-season outbreak of cold and flu cases squarely to blame.
Lynden Lalic, a registered nurse working at the Wagga blood bank, said the drop-off in donors had proven noticeable in recent weeks.
“We do experience (the drop-off) every winter, it’s a normal phenomenon unfortunately,” she said.
“Obviously we need people to be well when they come to donate – it means the organisation has to try and recruit those people who maybe have lapsed or have become (irregular) donors to try and make up the shortfall.
“On the whole our donors are fabulous. When they’re well, they know they’re needed and they come back.”
Wagga has experienced an increase of between 20 and 30 per cent in flu cases at this stage of the season compared to 2014 figures.
However, the number of cases in the city appears to have peaked, according to Murrumbidgee Local Health District public health director Tracey Oakman, who told the Advertiser last week emergency department presentations for flu symptoms had started to fall.
The Red Cross Blood Service has launched a concerted effort to bring in 900 donors between now and the October long weekend to ensure the fridges are well-stocked when the blood bank closes on the Monday.
“The needs are still there for patients with cancer for blood transfusions but, because we’re closed for that day we can’t say well, sorry, it’s a public holiday (and) you can’t have your blood today,” Ms Lalic said.
After hearing reports of a shortage of blood in Wagga, Kellie Simpson dropped into the city’s donor centre after having not given blood for a couple of years.
“I’ve always been a donor and stopped due to (getting) tattoos,” she said. “I heard the radio this morning and decided to ring up and make sure I was clear to come.”
Ms Simpson was inspired to donate blood after having to watch her daughter go through open heart surgery five times.
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