More than 20,000 Australians have signed up to become blood and plasma donors since the ‘mad cow’ ban was lifted last month.
New figures released by Australian Red Cross Lifeblood show that 20,711 people booked in for their first blood donation since the rules changed, allowing anyone who lived or travelled in the United Kingdom for six months or more between 1980 and 1996, during the ‘mad cow disease’ outbreak, to finally donate.
In a statement, Lifeblood said there were 30,000 blood donors cancelling or rescheduling their appointments every week and were asking Hume and Whittlesea residents to see the opportunity to donate as “a winter marathon, not a sprint”.
Lifeblood Australia executive director of donor services Cath Stone said one in six people who attended a centre had been impacted by the rule change.
“It has been truly incredible to see so many generous people ready to roll up their sleeves and start saving lives as soon as the change was announced,” Ms Stone said.
Lifeblood said it was continuing to look at other ways to ensure more Australians could donate blood and plasma, including its sexual activity rules which prevent gay and bisexual men and trans women from giving blood in Australia if they’ve had sexual intercourse with a man in the past three months.
“Right now, we are looking at our sexual activity rules and exploring whether we can safely reduce the wait period for plasma donations,” she said.
Book a donation at www.lifeblood.com.au, on the DonateBlood app or by calling 13 14 95.