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Thanks, Perth and Peel, for keeping the blood flowing during lockdown

Monday 12th Jul 2021

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First published in The West Australian on 09/07/2021

Brett King, Regional Director WA, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood 

It always amazes me how Western Australians stand together when times are tough, and the recent lockdown was a perfect example of the generosity and incredible spirit that underpins our community.

Lockdowns are a challenging time for many individuals and businesses. For Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, our challenge is that almost half of all blood donation appointments are cancelled or not attended once a lockdown is announced. Sometimes this is because our donors are preparing for lockdown, but usually it’s because they don’t realise blood donation is one of the specific essential reasons people can leave their homes during lockdowns. 

Last week Premier Mark McGowan reminded people that blood donation was essential, and Lifeblood donor centres were still open. He urged donors to keep their appointments and asked everyone else that was healthy and eligible to make one. 

The community’s response to this was instant.

Our Lifeblood donor centres, initially empty in the morning, were full to the brim in the afternoon. Not only did Western Australians keep their appointments, they turned out in their droves. Lifeblood experienced a 25 per cent increase in WA bookings for that same afternoon. People arrived asking to give blood on the spot. First time donors increased by more than 50 per cent in the following two days and appointments filled up across all our metropolitan centres. 

Western Australians have rolled up their sleeves with more vigour and enthusiasm than they have in months, not just because ‘Mark sent them’ (as proudly proclaimed by many Rockingham donors), but because they saw an opportunity to help fellow Western Australians in need and they jumped at it. 

Blood donation is a simple life-giving act that means so much to the person who receives it. And it is essential; the need for blood never stops, not even during pandemics.

We all expect blood to be there for us when we need it and unfortunately the chances are we will, with statistics showing one in three of us will need blood or blood products at some stage in our lifetime. 

I think we can all be guilty of complacency at times and who can blame us. So much has been asked of the people of Western Australia over the past year. COVID-19 has required us to adapt, sacrifice, compromise and give more than we could have ever imagined.

But blood and plasma donations are needed now more than ever before. Demand for blood and plasma is at its highest level in over a decade.

For those who can donate but haven’t yet given it a go, I urge you not to be complacent. There is no better time than now. Western Australians depend on Lifeblood, and Lifeblood depends on you. 

I’m extremely proud and grateful to live in WA, as part of a selfless, compassionate and giving community.

On behalf of all the mums, dads, sons, daughters, aunties, brothers, next door neighbours, cancer patients, newborn babies, trauma victims, and everyone else who benefited from the 4,500 blood donations made in WA since last week’s lockdown, thank you. 

Thank you, WA, for not only keeping us safe but for making sure that when Perth and Peel stopped, the blood to patients and the Western Australian community kept flowing.

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