Leukaemia Foundation calls for Australians to roll up their sleeves and donate blood to support cancer patients

With most Australians still unaware blood donations are largely used to support cancer patients, The Leukaemia Foundation is marking this National Blood Donor Week (13-19 June) and today’s World Blood Donor Day (14 June) by calling on the national community to roll up their sleeves and donate.

New research from LifeBlood has revealed that despite three-quarters (76 per cent) of Australians knowing someone with cancer, close to the same number of people (77 per cent) are also unaware that cancer treatment uses a third of all donated blood products2.

The research also found that nearly half (41.2%) of those surveyed believe that blood donations are mostly used to treat road accident and trauma patients, despite this cause accounting for just two per cent of Australia’s total red blood cell usage. This compares to 34 per cent of red blood cell donations, or about one third of all donations nationally, used to help treat people with cancer and blood diseases.

With 50 Australians diagnosed with blood cancer every day, Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti is raising awareness of the crucial role blood donations continue to play in treating the growing number of people diagnosed with blood cancer now and into the future.

“With more than 110,000 Australians currently living by blood cancer, many will know someone who has been impacted. However, as this latest research shows the majority of Australians aren’t aware of how crucial blood donations are to manage a cancer diagnosis, either as part of a life-saving treatment plan or to counter the side effects caused by the cancer itself or its treatment,” Mr Tanti said.

On average, one acute leukaemia patient in treatment needs nine units (2.25 litres) of red cells every month, or 36 units (just over one litre) of platelets each month, with four donors needed to make up each bag of platelets.

They could need one or both of these products for the duration of their diagnosis, which can last anywhere from eight months to years.

“Just over 3.5% of Australians donate blood, and that means there could be more than 13 million Australians who may be able to donate, but don’t.

“The reality is if 18 of these Australians signed up today to become a monthly blood donor, that would be enough donated blood to treat just one person diagnosed with blood cancer, so we really are relying on everyday Australians to lend the blood cancer community a helping arm as often as they can,” Mr Tanti said.

“By 2035, we’ve projected there will be 275,000 Australians living with a blood cancer diagnosis3, which means by then we could need more than double the number of blood donations available to treat these people in the coming years.

“This National Blood Donor Week, if you’re eligible, please consider giving blood with the knowledge you are potentially offering an invaluable lifeline to one of the growing number of Australians living with blood cancer reliant on this liquid gold.”

If you’re 18-75 years old, healthy and weigh over 50kg, you may be able to give blood. Visit lifeblood.com.au to see if you’re eligible or to make an appointment or call 13 14 95. 

If you or someone you know is impacted by blood cancer, contact 1800 620 420 to speak with a registered blood cancer support professional, and access the latest information or supportive care services, or visit leukaemia.org.au.

National Blood Donor Week runs from 13-19 June, including World Blood Donor Day on 14 June. 

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