TOO BLOODY EASY: Ursula Nash with blood donor Donald Carson and Toowoomba donor services team member Cassie Clothier, showing just how easy it is to give blood.
TOO BLOODY EASY: Ursula Nash with blood donor Donald Carson and Toowoomba donor services team member Cassie Clothier, showing just how easy it is to give blood.

Giving blood at any age easier than ever

IF you thought you were too old to be a life-saver, think again, because the rules for donating blood have just changed.

New donors will now be welcomed until their 76th birthday (up from 69).

The upper age limit of 80 years for donation has also been completely removed for repeat and regular donors.

That's great news for Toowoomba Blood Service spokesperson Sandee Thompson, with 56per cent of Toowoomba's 6311 active donors being aged 40-69 years old.

It also comes at a particularly good time as winter flu takes its toll on donation numbers.

"The winter months always present a particular challenge for Toowoomba Donor Centre, as we experience a high number of daily appointment cancellations," Sandee said.

"Many of our regular donors fall ill due to winter colds and flu, which means we need more Toowoomba locals who haven't donated in a while, or first-time donors, to step-up and help fill these donation gaps."

Donors have to wait at least two weeks after they are well to donate again, meaning the blood bank can miss up to 1500 donations Australia-wide.

In other good news for would-be local donors, however, the Toowoomba donor centre is now open seven days a week, including Sundays 8am-12pm, and some week days from 7.30am-7.30pm.

Sandee said demand for plasma in particular was increasing 10-12% every year, due to its incredible versatility, used in 18 life-giving treatments.

That meant new volunteer donors were continually needed.

One in every three Australians will need blood or a blood product during their lifetime for everything from accidents to cancer treatment to brain and immune conditions, but only one in 30 donates.

And Sandee said the donations received in Toowoomba did not cover local demand.

From June 2018-2019, blood collections numbered 8755 which was 200 less than needed, and there were 10,811 plasma collections, 800 less than needed.

"All blood, plasma and platelet donations have a limited shelf life ... which means regular donations from our local community are really important," Sandee said.

The whole donation process takes about one hour, of which the donation time itself is only about 15 minutes, with a pre-donation interview and post-donation drink and snack.

Each donation potentially saves three lives.

Sandee said becoming a blood donor was easy and most people fell within the simple eligibility rules.

Go online at donateblood.com.au, call 131 495 or talk to the crew at 661 Ruthven St to learn more.


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