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OPINION: Why aren't Australians donating more blood?

CHRISTMAS DONATIONS: Holly Lucas, is giving blood again in Gladstone after a recent break due to pregnancy, but says it's worth the effort to save three lives.
CHRISTMAS DONATIONS: Holly Lucas, is giving blood again in Gladstone after a recent break due to pregnancy, but says it's worth the effort to save three lives. Matt Taylor GLA201217BLOOD

DID you know Australia is forced to obtain blood products from overseas because Australians don't donate enough to meet demand?

Now there's a lot of people who can't donate blood, whether because of health problems, age, weight, religious beliefs and so on.

Those guys are all off the hook. But for the rest of us, lucky enough to meet all the health criteria, why don't we donate blood?

Only about one in 30 Australians give blood every year according to the Australian Red Cross.

But the ARC also found most of us support the idea of blood donation. We just seem to think it's something that someone else should do.

Not surprisingly, this reluctance to donate is the subject of a fair bit of research.

One of the main reasons we avoid that visit to the blood bank, according to a research paper published in 2016 in the journal Transfusion, is anxiety.

 

A team of thirteen from the Sunshine Coast region took part in the Australian Red Cross'
A team of thirteen from the Sunshine Coast region took part in the Australian Red Cross' "Red25" Program and donated their blood and plasma which in turn will go toward saving thirty-nine lives. Contributed

Whether it's the actual process of the donation, the loss of blood, the thought of needles, the sight of blood or the anticipation of blood loss, all these things make us somewhat uneasy.

So how do we overcome this anxiety?

You frequently hear stories from overseas about natural disasters like earthquakes, where half the town lines up to donate blood. Does the sense of urgency and immediacy such events generate overcome our anxiety?

The question is: should we really be relying on blood from overseas? Surely if we think energy security and food security are important, we should be interested in blood security as well?

 

Julia Bartrim is a journalist at The Observer.

Topics:  blood donation observer opinion red cross blood service



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