Help eliminate the blood shortage, Join the International Blood Registry.
Australia is the 6th largest country in the world with a population of over 22.7 million people. In a country as large and economically stable as this, is it possible that Australia could also face a problem prevalent to almost any country in the world, which is blood shortage? Despite its large pool of human resource, does it have enough blood donors to keep up with the country’s demand for blood products?
Australia has their own blood donation system; with their specific requirements for blood donors, stand in donation incentives, status of blood donation supplies, blood banks that manage the country’s blood supply and even some blood donation facts of the country.
You CAN donate IF:
- You are fit and healthy.
- You are not suffering from flu, cold or other illness at the day or seven days before your scheduled donation.
- You weigh more than 45 kilograms
You CAN’T donate blood IF:
- You are HIV positive, have hepatitis B and C, and if you have injected yourself with drugs not prescribed by a doctor.
- You have had any of the disease mentioned above in the past 12 months:
- You are a man who has had sex with another man in the past 12 months.
- You are woman who has had sex with a man who had sex with another man.
- You had sex with a partner who has Hepatitis C or HIV.
- You had sex with someone who has Hepatitis B, unless you have been vaccinated or are immune on the testing.
- You had sex with someone who has injected themselves with drugs not prescribed by a doctor.
- You had sex with a male or female sex worker.
- You had sex with anyone who lives in, or hails from, a country considered to have a high rate of HIV infection.
There may be instances when you can’t give blood due to other health reasons, but don’t worry, you can still help save lives in your own little way. You can spread the news about blood donation drives in your area and go over there with your family and friends who may donate. Being an advocate by sharing the benefits of blood donation for both the recipient and the donor. Australians need to reach more people with news about blood drive activities and appeals for donors done via social media like Facebook and Twitter. Deferred donors still have the hope of giving, in the mean time spreading the news will help the collection efforts.
Incentives to Blood Donors
Australia is one of the countries that prohibit incentive programs in any form for blood donors. Australia only accepts donations from volunteers and non-remunerated blood donors.
The World Health Organization (WHO) set a goal that all blood donations must be collected from unpaid volunteer donors by 2020. This issue has been highlighted in Melbourne Declaration during the 2009 World Blood Donor Day in Australia. The declaration, which is composed by an international group pf experts and participants of WBDD, encouraged all countries to achieve 100% voluntary non-remunerated blood donations by 2020.
Is Australia’s Blood Supply Enough?
According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, 1 in 3 Australians will need blood or blood products in their lifetime but only 3%, or 1 in 30 Australians, donate blood each year. This means 97% of the population depend on a very few people to provide for the country’s blood supply. Australia is lucky to be self-sufficient in meeting the people’s needs for blood products. However, with only a few percent of the country’s population rolling up their sleeves, the threat of blood shortage is just around the corner for Oz.
In 2007, the Australian government made a forecast that the demand for blood would double in the next 10 years. The increase in demand is triggered by the increased number of auto-immune disorders and immune deficiencies, which are treated by plasma. Plasma-treated diseases are growing 6% each year, and will continue to grow since these conditions occur more commonly among older Australians. More people are also developing cancer and 65% of cancer patients will require a blood product at some time during their therapy. The predicted increase in demand for blood products means that Australia needed around 2 million blood donations every year to secure that Australians will have the lifesaving products they need.
Imported Blood Products
FIve years after the forecast on the need for more donors, the increase blood product demands has materialized. Early 2011, Australia started struggling with supplies of donated plasma. There was a need to multiply the donor pool yet the call for more donors fell on deaf ears. The country had to look for a short-term solution that may have drastic long-term repercussions. Australia has to import life-sustaining blood products from other countries just to treat a number of serious illnesses.
One blood product that Australia imports is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), a critical product derived from plasma that is used to treat patients for haematological, neurological and immunological conditions.
In 2003-2004, the National Blood Authority revealed that 2% of Australia’s IVIg supply was already being imported and $2 million was spent to acquire the product. Within 5 years, more than 25% of it was imported. In 2010-2011, Australia has spent a whopping $31 million for importation. This 2012, the Red Cross Blood Service said that 22% of the country’s supply will be from other countries too. Red Cross has appealed to Aussies to donate blood plasma to help keep up with the demand.
General Manager of National Blood Authority Leigh McJames said that the amount of intravenous immunoglobulin produced each year is not enough to meet clinical demand, which is also growing steadily every year. There are about 554,000 blood donors in Australia but 84,000 of them are plasma-only donors.
Land Down Under suffers blood Shortage
In November 2011, an article on ABC.net.au urged Australians to roll up their sleeves as the country suffers massive blood shortage. The Red Cross said it had less than three days’ supply of blood left across the country as the nation’s supplies reach dangerously low levels. According to the article, all states in Australia were in critical need of donations, but the demand was particularly urgent in Western Australia.
Kathy Bowlen, Australian Red Cross Blood Service Spokeswoman, said that the demand for O-negative was very important since it could be given to any patient who needs blood. Bowlen then admitted that 2011 had been a difficult year for donations since only 1 in 30 Australians are taking time to give blood.
The year 2012 is no better. Just this June, nurses and midwives in New South Wales rolled up their sleeves to help fight a critical blood shortage across Australia. Members of the NSW Nurses Association donated blood at hospitals across the north coast and mid-north coast to help bolster the nation’s blood supply.
Bowlen said that this is the first time they have witnessed a critical decline in donations. The reason that Australian Red Cross Blood Service experienced blood shortage is because they were not able to meet their target of 27,000 appointments weekly. With this, the ARCBS is urging people to come forth and give blood as part of their moral obligations.
Blood Banks in Australia
Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) is a branch of the Australian Red Cross that is responsible for blood donation and related services in Australia. Australian Red Cross Blood Service was established as a national organization in 1996 and they have been fully funded by the Australian governments since 2005-2006. The Australian government contributes 63% of ARCBS’s funding, while the remaining eight state and Territory governments contributes 37% of its funding.
The Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion (ANZSBT) consists of members from diverse medical, technical and scientific backgrounds that work within the areas of blood transfusion and transfusion medicine within Australia and New Zealand. The organization aims to promote improved standards in the practice of blood transfusion, collaborate with international and other regional societies interested in blood, formulate guidelines in key areas of transfusion practice and many more.
BloodSafe is a blood transfusion safety and and quality improvement collaboration between the Transfusion Medicine Services at the Blood Services, the South Australian Department of Health, and the South Australian public and private hospitals and their transfusion service providers.
National Blood Authority (NBA) is established to improve and enhance the management of the Australian blood and plasma product sector at a national level. National Blood Authority adheres to the primary policy of the Australian Blood Center which is to provide sufficient, safe, secure and affordable supply of blood products in the country and to promote safe, high quality management and use of blood products in Australia.
The blood organizations mentioned above are just few of the many blood organizations in Australia. To know more about all the blood and health organizations in the country, just click here.
Just like United Kingdom and Canada, Australia has one of the safest blood supplies in the world and they only accept blood donations from its generous and unpaid donors. However, we have seen that only a few percentage of the Australian population have made it a habit to give blood. If the percentage doesn’t improve anytime soon, then Australia could face a very serious case of blood shortage.
May this article open the eyes of the many Australians who have yet donated blood. Donating blood has many benefits especially to the donor, but the greatest of all is knowing the fact that you have saved lives in each pint you give. Australia has 22.7 million people, I’m sure there are also over a million eligible heroes out there. And guess what, it could be YOU!
Help eliminate the blood shortage, Join the International Blood Registry.